Edison levy vote scheduled May 6

HAMMONDSVILLE – A 5.9-mill, five-year operating levy for the Edison Local School District is on the May 6 ballot for voters’ consideration.

The proposal, which would raise an estimated $1.96 million annually for the district, was barely turned down by district voters on Nov. 5, according to Bill Beattie, district superintendent.

“The final count among the three counties Nov. 5 was that (the proposal) lost by 16 votes,” said Beattie.

The district encompasses more than 1,900 students and pupils from Hammondsville, Richmond, Knoxville, Irondale, Pleasant Hill, Amsterdam, Bergholz, Empire, Stratton and other areas in the northern edge of Jefferson County. The levy would fund district operations, including buses, building maintenance, food services, salaries, wages, benefits of employees and utilities.

The levy is needed because the district has lost substantial revenue since, according to Beattie, including a loss of more than $2.1 million since 2011. Losses include $700,000 in property taxes garnered from FirstEnergy Corp.; a $470,000 loss due to changes in the way state tax is reimbursed to school districts; and a $949,813 loss in funds from federal stimulus funds.

Beattie said if the proposed levy passes, it will make a difference in district programs.

“Those programs (eliminated) are not coming back even if this levy passes, except for high school busing, which will resume in August for the 2014-15 school year,” he said. “Another aspect (affecting district funding) is our district was deemed by the state of Ohio to have the ability to raise more funding through passage of a levy. That’s why we didn’t get any extra funding from the state in the state’s two-year budget.”

Beattie also said Edison spends about 69 percent of its general fund on wages and benefits, while the state average is 78 percent. He added although the state won’t grant new Homestead Exemptions for senior citizens, those already granted the exemption are grandfathered in.

“I think there’s a misconception out there about the cost of this (proposal),” said Beattie. “The additional tax is based on 35 percent of the market value of a home – not 100 percent of the market value. For a homeowner with a home assessed at $100,000 with a Homestead Exemption the additional cost of this levy would be approximately $12 a month. For a home assessed at $100,000 without the Homestead Exemption the cost would be about an additional $18 per month.”

Beattie said for those wanting information could call 740-282-0065, ext. 1100.