School officials who were part of the first, collective school security levy in Southwest Ohio, are now beginning to assess their next moves in the wake of the tax’s electoral defeat Tuesday.
An analysis of voting showed the new type of school tax lost in all five school districts — some by wide margin — where it was on the ballot.
The 10-year, 1.5-mill property tax increase to fund school security and mental health counselors lost 53 percent to 47 percent, according to unofficial final results from the Butler County Board of Elections.
Officials in the five school districts that banded together to campaign for the tax — Fairfield, Hamilton, Monroe, Edgewood and New Miami — expressed disappointment over the loss of millions of dollars of security-oriented funding, but remain undeterred in keeping their schools safe.
It’s early, but so far none of the districts are publicly discussing going for another security levy or other type of school tax issue during the four electoral windows available in 2019.
“We will continue to make safety a security our most important priority,” said Billy Smith, superintendent for the 10,000-student Fairfield Schools.
“Prior to the levy, it was a priority and that will not change. In the last few years, we have made significant upgrades in regard to safety and security and we have consistently evaluated our safety and security procedures and will continue to do so,” said Smith.
“We have not had any discussions about putting a levy on the ballot in the future,” he told the Journal-News.
According to unofficial results, among the five-school district the overall voter turnout on the school security levy was 51.1 percent.
The 1.5-mill tax hike lost in all five districts, with Monroe Schools showing the smallest margin of defeat — 49.7 percent for the levy and 50.3 percent voting against it.
Fairfield Schools had the next closest margin with 48.1 for and 51.8 against.
Edgewood Schools had the widest margin of defeat — 39.8 percent for and 60.1 percent against — while Hamilton Schools saw 52.5 percent of voters opposed compared to 47.5 percent in favor.
New Miami Schools, Butler County’s smallest enrollment district, saw 41.9 percent in favor and 58 percent voting no.
For New Miami Schools resident Denny Callahan the school tax hike was a no vote.
“It is always something and like (Butler County) Sheriff (Richard) Jones said they (the five districts) already had (millions of dollars) in reserve and they want more and more,” said Callahan.
Staff writer Michael D. Pitman contributed to this report.
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