3 school districts have renewals on ballots

Staff report

Residents in the Urbana, Graham and West Liberty-Salem school districts will be asked to renew property tax levies on Nov. 5. If these renewals are passed, taxpayers will pay no more than they currently are paying.

Urbana renewal

The Urbana school district is asking voters to renew a 5.9-mill operating levy for current expenses. This levy first passed in March of 2000 and has been renewed three times (2005, 2010, 2015). Instead of seeking a five-year levy this time, the district is asking voters to make this a continuing levy.

The levy generates approximately $1.2 million a year to support the day-to-day operations of the district.

The levy costs taxpayers $180.69 (about 50 cents per day) for every $100,000 of home value, according to Superintendent Charles Thiel.

He notes that since the renewal is for a continuing period of time, voters will not be asked to approve it again.

“The board recently has been asking the community to support continuing levies since all of them have been in place for many years and are crucial to support the operations of the district,” Thiel said.

Graham renewal

A five-year, 1.5-mill permanent improvement renewal levy is on Graham’s ballot. First passed 40 years ago in 1979, dollars from this levy can only be used for the improvement and maintenance of property and the acquisition of transportation equipment. It cannot be used for salaries or benefits for employees.

This levy generated $148,068 in tax year 2018, according to Interim Superintendent Matt Curtis. Some items that have been funded with these dollars in the past are school buses, school bus cameras, paving for parking lots, computers for students and plumbing repairs.

County Auditor Karen Bailey reports that this levy costs the owner of a $100,000 home $15.98 a year.

Curtis said passage of the renewal is critical to help maintain safe facilities and buses.

“Recently, the school board voted to reinstate door-to-door busing for high school students living in rural areas beginning in January, 2020,” Curtis said. “A full transportation model that is safe and efficient requires funding for the purchase and upkeep of school buses.”

West Liberty-Salem renewal

WL-S has a five-year, 1.5-mill permanent improvement renewal levy on the ballot. The tax generates about $155,000 a year to construct, improve, renovate, remodel, equip and furnish buildings, according to ballot language.

First approved by voters in 1969, the levy has been renewed or replaced every five years and has funded such needs as maintaining and repairing school property, purchasing school buses and items such as computers, instructional material, textbooks and desks.

A WL-S info sheet notes that the levy does not go toward the field house project, salaries or employee benefits.

The info sheet further states that the levy costs the average taxpayer $46 a year.


Staff report

Info provided by the Urbana, Graham and West Liberty-Salem school districts.

Info provided by the Urbana, Graham and West Liberty-Salem school districts.