The Brookville school district is one of several with new or increased levies on the ballot for next Tuesday, May 6, 2014. This will be the third time in a row this tiny school district northwest of Dayton has tried to get an increase; in May 2013, the levy lost by two votes, and in November, it failed by 44 out of 2,642 total votes.
Michelle Landis has two kids in the schools and heads the levy committee—and she says it’s all about turnout.
“A lot of people have come forward in the community and just said, you know what, I feel so bad, either I got busy or I forgot to vote that day or I was out of town,” she says. She’s hopeful that a get-out-the vote effort will be successful this time around.
But Landis also knows some people will not vote for new property taxes—particularly if they're on a fixed income, as many seniors in the community are. The 5.25 mill levy for current operating expenses would raise about $52 a year from a house valued at $100,000, which is close to the median home value in Brookville. Because so many city budgets are dependent on property values, stagnant or declining home values have contributed to funding stress for many parts of Montgomery County in the last few years, although Brookville hasn’t been as adversely affected as some towns.
Superintendent Tim Hopkins says Brookville just can’t contain costs anymore—they are already spending less per student than any other district in Montgomery County, and he says the need for new technology and the rising costs of fuel and other basic needs are making it hard to contain costs.
“It’s heart-breaking,” Hopkins says. “We’re gonna have to begin to cut programs in order to prepare for stretching a budget that just doesn’t meet cost.”
In general, new and additional school levies have a much harder time passing than levy renewals.
Hopkins says without the levy, they’ll probably get rid of elementary school music and some reading and math intervention programs for middle schoolers, although the district isn't projecting a deficit.
Other area districts seeking votes for new or additional levies include Tri-County North, Greenon, Clark-Shawnee, and Greeneview. The Dayton Daily News has listings of all the candidates and ballot issues up for the May 6 primary.
Lewis Wallace is WYSO's economics reporter. Follow him @lewispants.