Q & A on the B-C-S Emergency Levy on the November 5th Ballot
The issue is a yes or no vote on approving a 3.9 mill property tax to be paid by all property owners for a period of 5 years, and subject to renewal. If passed, the property tax would cost an additional $136 per $100,000 of value for each parcel of property annually. This property tax issue would generate approximately $1.5 Million per year for the district to be used for operating expenses.
These funds are needed because the district is losing $6 Million in revenue out of a current budget of approximately $20 Million. This represents about 30% of the budget being lost. This loss is happening through no fault of the district.
There are two reasons for this unprecedented drop in revenue. First, there is the phase out of public utility tangible personal property (PUTPP) reimbursement payments from the state at the rate of approximately $278,000 per year, which began in 2015; and this loss is compounding. This phase out continues each year through 2030, which is a total loss of $4.5 Million when the phase out is complete.
The second reason for the revenue loss stems from the recent de-valuation of the Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station by its owner, First Energy, through the Ohio Department of Taxation. De-valuation means that the Ohio Department of Taxation reduced the taxable value of the electric generation equipment at the plant. The de-valuation results in an annual loss of $4.6 Million beginning in 2018.
Q: Was anything done to stop this loss from happening?
A: Yes. The district explored the possibility of challenging the de-valuation of Davis-Besse. Unfortunately, due to a change in state law in 1989, neither the school district nor the county auditor can challenge a de-valuation once approved by the Ohio Department of Taxation. The Board has also reached out personally by traveling to First Energy headquarters in Akron to meet with their corporate executives. The Board asked First Energy for funding that would provide a short term "glide path" to adapt to the new financial reality due to the de-valuation and the loss of $4.6 Million overnight. First Energy indicated that it would not provide any kind of financial assistance to the school district. The Board has also lobbied to halt or slow the phase out of the PUTPP payments from the state.
Q: Have any other districts lost this much money?
A: No. At an October 2017 meeting at the Statehouse hosted by Senator Randy Gardner, he asked a room full of experts on school funding if any other district lost the magnitude of money that B-C-S is losing. After reflection, no one could think of another district that lost the proportion of funds we are losing. The loss is simply unprecedented in Ohio.
Q: What about the B-C-S Bridge; doesn’t that help?
A: Yes, but temporarily. "B-C-S Bridge" payment from the state of approximately $1.8 Million per year for 3 years will help in the transition until the new funds from the levy can be collected in full. It is important to remember that these funds from the state are temporary, and will end in 2021.While appreciated, this financial help is short-term, and covers only a small portion of what is being lost by the district.
Q: Why is this called “emergency” levy?
A: This means the levies will bring in a fixed amount of money for the duration of the levy. It is not uncommon for school districts to pass “emergency” levies.
Q: Is the district making up all of its losses through these levies?
A: No. This levy will raise $1.5 Million annually, and the one passed in May 2018 will raise $1.4 Million annually for a total of $2.9 Million. Thus, we are not making up the full loss of $6 Million annually.
Q: How do our current taxes compare with our neighbors?
Q: Has Benton-Carroll-Salem made any cuts?
A: Yes. Over the past 7 years, the Board has prided itself on being fiscally conservative by looking at every job vacancy, and asking if staffing can be more efficient and effective. This has led to the reduction of several hundred thousand dollars in salary expenses in the areas of administration, teachers, and support staff. The Board's fiscally conservative actions can be seen when looking at payroll expenses (which account for about 70% of the total budget). In Fiscal Year 2012, payroll was $11.5 Million. In that year, the Board made large cuts to staffing levels (40 positions). As a result, in Fiscal Year 2013, payroll was $9.7 Million. Six years later, in Fiscal Year 2018, payroll expenses remain the same at $9.7 Million. This has been done while being innovative, adding services for students, and being one of the top performing school districts academically in the state.
Cuts that have been made include:
HS ENGLISH TEACHER
HS FRENCH TEACHER
PHYSICAL EDUCATION TEACHER
RE-ORGANIZED SPECIAL ED UNITS
ELIMINATED "OLD" MEDICAL INSURANCE PLAN
EMPLOYEES NOW HAVE A MEDICAL DEDUCTIBLE OVER $5,000
REDUCED RETIREMENT BENEFITS TO ADMINISTRATORS
LOWER SALARY SCHEDULE FOR TEACHERS
NO ONE WILL RECEIVE A BASE PAY INCREASE IN THE 19-20 SY
ELIMINATED THREE BUS ROUTES
REDUCED CURRICULUM PURCHASES
These efficiency measures will continue, but the magnitude of the annual revenue losses mean that the school district simply cannot cut its way out of the situation without drastically reducing educational opportunities for students. The school board is always looking for ways to always be fiscally conservative for our voters, and not just when money is needed.
Q: What if the levy fails?
A: The District would be forced to make further reductions in services and programming available to students.
Q: Does H.B. 6 help Benton-Carroll-Salem Schools?
A: No. H.B. 6 provides no new funds to fill the revenue losses due to the devaluation of Davis-Besse in 2018. H.B. 6 is targeted to help First Energy remain competitive in the energy market. The school district has testified in support of H.B. 6 legislation to help keep Davis-Besse in operation, and we are thrilled that it passed. However, H.B. 6 does not fix our financial dilemma.
Q: What is the fiscal impact of allowing the Open Enrollment of students from other districts?
A: Open enrollment is a revenue generator for B-C-S. We lose $504,000 to other districts, but gain $805,000 with the students we accept for open enrollment. Open enrollment allows us to maximize the efficiency of our current teachers. We do not hire new teachers to deal with open enrolled students.
Q: What facts can you give about the farm land purchased by the district in 2015?
A: -It was purchased upon the recommendation of the Facilities Planning Committee.
-It was 13 acres purchased at the cost of $130,000.
-The district collects an annual rent from the land in the amount of $1,430.
Q: Does the district pay anything to those who have retired from the district?
A: No. The district makes contributions to the retirement plans of each employee as required by state law and contract agreements while they are active employees. Once they are retired the district has zero liability for the employee’s retirement.
Q: When and how do I vote?
A: Voting is Tuesday, November 5, 2019. Voter registration ends October 7.
Absentee Voting (Early Voting) begins on October 8, 2019 at the Ottawa County Board of Elections office located at 8444 West SR 163 in Oak Harbor (just west of the Ottawa County Fairground). Voters can show up in person at their office at the following times:
Monday through Friday from October 8 through October 25 from 8--5. From Monday, October 28 through Friday, November 1 the Board of Elections is open from 8--7 for early voting. On Saturday, November 2 they are open from 8--4; on Sunday, November 3 they are open from 1--5; and on Monday, November 4 they are open from 8--2.
Q: Where can I get more information; how will the district communicate?
*Citizens are encouraged to call the Board Office at (419) 898-6210; or email
B-C-S Fact Sheets:
Click Here to Access the letter sent to stakeholders regarding the increase of fees and reductions that are effective with the 2019-20 school year: