By Susan Hartley
Group Content Manager
PIQUA – Piqua City School administrators are hoping that keeping their promise to the community to be good stewards of taxpayer dollars will mean a win come May 6.
Piqua voters are being asked to approve a renewal of the district’s 1.8 mill, five year permanent improvement levy, which will generate $692,986 annually in property taxes. The levy was originally passed in 1994, and expires Dec. 31 of this year. The 1.8 mill levy renewal appearing on the May 6 ballot does not mean new or additional taxes, it is strictly a renewal.
Monies generated from the levy go toward property improvement, namely the district’s junior high and high school facilities, said Supt. Rick Hanes. The district also will use money from the levy to assist in paying off the principal on a loan used to replace the HVAC system at the high school.
No dollars collected from the renewal will go toward the district’s current building project.
“The community has been very supportive,” Hanes said of the need to approve the permanent levy. “We’re good stewards of taxpayer money and will continue to do that. I think the good news is that we are able to come back and ask for a renewal without having to ask for new money.”
The levy does not go toward district’s operating expenses, such as salaries or materials. It will only be used for improvement projects, Hanes said.
For example, Piqua is in the process of replacing their bus fleet at two units per year. Each bus costs the district approximately $89,000, Hanes said, so about $200,000 yearly will be budgeted for bus replacement. Typically, when traded, a bus has in excess of 250,000 miles on its odometer.
Other projects may include pavement of the driveway and parking lots surrounding the junior high and high school campus. Money also will be used to tackle unexpected repairs.
“Due to this past winter’s harsh conditions, we had a sprinkler system that froze on us at the high school,” Hanes said. “We had to replace equipment.”
Permanent improvement tax dollars also may be used for include security equipment, roof repair and replacement, heating system repair and replacement, floor repair and replacement.
If the levy does not pass May 6, the district will be forced to cut the amount the levy would generate from its operating budget. These cuts would impact students in the classroom and place repairs/improvements on “emergency” status. Class size would grow and students would receive fewer services. The bus replacement plan would be put on hold and debt payment of the new PHS HVAC system would be drawn from the operating budget
Information published in the district’s Drum Beat flyer and mailed to Piqua homes and businesses also points out that the 1.8 mill levy has been grandfathered and as long as voters continue to keep the levy renewed the school district will receive state tax credits, which includes a 10 percent rollback for seniors and a 2.5 percent if it is a taxpayer’s homestead (primary residence) being taxed. If the levy fails, but is renewed at a later time, residents will pay more on their tax bill.