Board Takes Next Levy Step

ST. MARYS —  The St. Marys Board of Education meeting Wednesday night centered on several key topics.

The first issue discussed was the levy the board hopes to pass. Members unanimously approved a resolution declaring their intent to proceed with the election on the question of an income tax and an additional tax exceeding the 10-mill limitation.

Board Treasurer Tom Sommer gave The Evening Leader a breakdown of the levy’s future and what action still needs to be taken.

“Tonight’s resolution basically said, after I got confirmation back, the county auditor said we need 5 mills to raise that $1.2 million and the State Department of Taxation said we needed 1 percent earned income to raise just over $2 million a year,” he said. “From this point, I have to take all this information to the County Board of Elections around Feb. 6 so that it gets put on the ballot. Then it goes to the voters to vote on in May. If approved, we’ll start collecting money in January of 2014.”

If the levy is not approved, the schools will see significant spending cuts, Sommer said.

“It would be my guess that the board would try to put something back on the ballot in November,” Sommer said. “This is a long time away yet, but between now and then we’re going to have to devise some type of reduction plan — spending cuts — so that we can continue to operate.”

Under estimates provided by Sommer, the owner of a $100,000 home would pay $153.13 per year or $12.76 per month as part of the 5-mill levy.

A homeowner with a homestead exemption would pay $114.84 per year or $9.57 per month under the same scenario.

For an exact possible payment, homeowners should contact the county auditor’s office.

The BOE has appointed Kristina Keller and Lisa Howe as co-chairs for the levy to rally support from community members in favor of the tax.

“I just feel like what our schools are doing is good, and I don’t want to see any cuts or services taken away for the kids,” Keller said.

She has a Kindergartner, a second-grade student, an eighth-grade student and a junior at the high school — all of whom attend St. Marys schools.

Howe has first and second-grade students, and said she feels just as strongly that the schools’ budget should not be cut.

“You cannot have a strong city without strong schools,” Howe said. “We live here, we work here — we always have. Our families are our whole future.”

Business Manager Kurt Kuffner gave an update on the masonry work that will eventually be completed to the exterior of the high school and middle school building.

“Last Thursday, the OSFC and our construction management firm conducted a pre-bid meeting on our masonry renovation project,” Kuffner said.

“We currently have 12 masonry contractors that hold bid specifications for the project ... The bid opening is set for early January. Then the plan is to scope out the apparent low bidders and have a recommendation for the board’s consideration at the February board meeting.”

As for the proposed athletic complex behind the high school/middle school building, Sommer said the project is on the “back burner.”

Members also unanimously passed a motion to modify public participation at all future board meetings. The new rules are as follows:

• An individual is allowed to speak for a maximum of three minutes per meeting and may not speak twice

• The subject of that individual’s discussion must be listed on the sign-in sheet, and if that individual deviates from this topic at all, the board can terminate that person’s time to speak

• An individual who wishes to read a written statement must provide that statement to the superintendent and to the presiding officer for review 72 hours before the meeting. The presiding officer will approve or deny the individual’s right to read said statement

• An individual cannot speak on the same topic twice if the board has already addressed the topic; if the topic is too vague, the presiding officer will request clarification from the individual. Failure to do so will result in termination of the individual’s right to speak.

In other business, members:

• Approved the minutes of the Nov. 14 board meeting

• Approved a resolution to consider renewing membership with the 2013 Legal Assistance Fund

• Approved a motion to consider Feb. 4, 2013, as the date to conduct the annual Board of Education tour of facilities

• Approved a motion to consider the request for a proposal for the HVAC maintenance two-year services contract for the high school and middle school building.