Q. What what will be on the ballot on November 5, 2019?
- An operating levy of 5.9 mills combined with a 1.95 mill bond issue that will generate $103 million
- It will be two paragraphs on the ballot with one question to voters
Q. I heard only people who live within the City of Westerville will be able to vote on this issue. Is that true?
- No. Any registered voter who lives within the Westerville City School District attendance area can vote on Westerville City School District ballot issues, including Issue 8 on the November 5, 2019, general election ballot. Many people mistakenly believe that if they don’t live within the actual City of Westerville, they are not eligible to vote on ballot issues for the Westerville City Schools. That is not true! As long as you live in an area served by the Westerville City School District, our school issues will be on your ballot and you will be able to vote on them.
Q. I heard the District could get money for buildings from a state agency. Does this plan include that opportunity?
- Yes, the District has entered into a partnership program with the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission (OFCC) that will allow for a potential credit for Phase 2 of the Facilities Master Plan of 35% of eligible projects
- The OFCC has conducted a facilities assessment and enrollment projections at no cost to the District
Q. How much money will the operating issue generate annually for the district?
- The county auditor estimated the annual revenue amount at $15.6 million
Q. Will this operating levy pay to open, staff and run the proposed new buildings?
- Yes, if voters approve this ballot issue, the District will be able to build and operate both new schools
Q. What is the cost of the new bond issue and operating levy to taxpayers?
- The bond issue is estimated at $68.25 annually per $100,000 of property value
- The operating levy is estimated at $206.50 annually per $100,000 of property value
- The total additional monthly cost is $22.89 per $100,000 of property value
- The total additional annual cost is $274.75 per $100,000 of property value
Q. The county auditor shows both market value and assessed/taxable value, which one should I use to calculate my annual and monthly costs using the above amounts?
- The $100,000 property value calculation provided above is based on market value
- What is assessed/taxable value?
- Assessed/taxable value is 35% of a property’s market value
Q. How many years will the levy and bond issue be collected?
- The operating levy is permanent (you may also hear this referred to as being for a “continuing period of time”) and will not appear on a taxpayer’s bill until calendar year 2021
- The bond issue is for 37 years and will appear on a taxpayer’s bill in calendar year 2020
Q. What is the difference between a bond issue and an operating levy?
- The bond issue can only be used for capital improvements, such as constructing school facilities; renovating, improving and constructing additions to school facilities, including safety and security improvements; furnishing and equipping the facilities; improving the sites of the buildings; and acquiring land and interests in land
- The operating levy generates revenue for the school district’s general fund, which pays for the operations of the school district including classrooms, support for classrooms, utilities, business operations, transportation services and everything in between
Q. Why do school districts need to pass so many operating levies?
- The state funds approximately 33% of the school district’s general operations and local property taxes support approximately 60%. The school district also receives revenue from federal and other sources.
- Property tax levies are designed, through House Bill 920 reduction factors, to generate an amount of revenue based on when the levy was passed by voters.
- For example with this ballot issue, the county auditor estimates that the school district would receive an additional amount of revenue in the amount of $15.6 million annually from the operating levy beginning in calendar year 2021. When the county auditor assesses the same tax in calendar year 2022 and every year after that, it would set the millage amount so that the school district will receive approximately $15.6 million annually. So even if property values increase, the school district will not receive any additional revenue from that levy. The only exception to that is the school district would receive new revenue from the levy for any new construction.
- House Bill 920 was enacted in 1976 to protect taxpayers against rising taxes due to property values increasing. What that also means is that the school district does not receive increases in revenue that keep up with inflation and the cost of doing business.
- The last time the District asked for new money was in 2012. The total effective rate for residential property was 59.03 mills after that levy at the time. Due to the effects of House Bill 920 reduction factors, the total effective millage for residential property is now 53.24 mills. That is a reduction of 5.79 mills.
In order for the school district to maintain programs and services as costs rise, the school district needs to ask voters for new taxes. As enrollment grows, the need for additional revenue becomes greater.
Q. I keep hearing that the school district hasn’t asked voters for new money in 7 years, but I remember voting on a school levy in 2016. Why is the school district saying that?
- The last time there was levy for a new tax in the school district was in 2012.
- The levy that was approved by voters in 2016 replaced the 2012 levy that was set to expire, so it was not new.
Q. What about the Win-Win agreement, won’t Columbus just take our buildings/land/students?
- No. A new agreement was approved in 2016 that phases out payments to the Columbus City Schools over five years and makes the boundaries of the Westerville City School District permanent, effectively eliminating the traditional Win-Win agreement.
Q. Who pays property taxes to Westerville City Schools?
- All commercial and residential properties within the Westerville City School District boundaries pay the same respective tax rate for school taxes to the Westerville City School District.
- The Westerville City School District serves students who live within the attendance boundaries of the school district, which differs from the surrounding city and township boundaries.
- In addition to the City of Westerville, the attendance boundaries of the Westerville City School District includes portions of the City of Columbus, Blendon Township, Genoa Township and all of Minerva Park.
Q. Is there any tax relief available for senior citizens?
- Low income senior citizens and permanently and totally disabled residents may be eligible for the State of Ohio’s Homestead Exemption, which can exempt up to $25,000 of property value from taxes
- Residents can contact the County Auditor’s Office to apply for the Homestead Exemption.