In her research of the possibility of placing a property tax levy before voters, a few things have become clear, said Brookfield school Superintendent Velina Jo Taylor.
“You need to have a plan, you need to be clear and specific about how you plan to spend the money, and you need to be clear and specific about the consequences of a levy failing,” she said Wednesday.
It’s a tall order to fill if the school board members want to place a levy on the May ballot. The Trumbull County Board of Elections would need to be informed by Jan. 29, said district Treasurer Craig Yaniglos.
“You’ve done literally no groundwork,” Yaniglos said.
Several questions need to be answered. Should the district go for an operational levy or a permanent improvement levy?
The proceeds from an operational levy could be used for any expense the district incurs, while a permanent improvement levy could only be used for “things that last five or more years,” Taylor said, such as computers, textbooks, buses and building repairs.
“It doesn’t go for salaries,” she said of permanent improvement funds. “It doesn’t go for added staff.”
A permanent improvement levy could free up general fund money for operations, but school board members said they don’t know what expenses – that could be paid for with permanent improvement funds — are planned. Board member Kelly Carrier asked Yaniglos for a list of items that would qualify for permanent improvement funds, as well as the kinds of purchases already planned.
Board member Tim Filipovich said he favors a permanent improvement levy, because Brookfield voters tend to support referendums when they know how the money is going to be spent before they vote. Carrier said she did not have an inclination either way, but did not want to undermine operational needs, such as the possibility of adding programs.
Taylor also asked the board members to think about the kind of school system they want to have.
“Are we just going to try to survive, or are we going to try to thrive?” Taylor said, noting school board members have talked of wanting to become a “destination district.”
A mill of taxes raises $132,000, Yaniglos said.