Edgewood residents to decide on substitute levy

Voters in Butler County’s Edgewood Schools will have a rare opportunity during the March 17 election to vote on a substitute tax levy, which if approved, will lower their annual school tax bill. The proposed school tax would replace a current substitute levy first approved by voters in 2010 and renewed in 2015. (File Photo/Journal-News)
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Voters in Butler County’s Edgewood Schools will have a rare opportunity during the March 17 election to vote on a substitute tax levy, which if approved, will lower their annual school tax bill. The proposed school tax would replace a current substitute levy first approved by voters in 2010 and renewed in 2015. (File Photo/Journal-News)

Edgewood Schools residents will decide on a rare type of school tax issue that, if passed, will lower their tax bill.

Edgewood school officials are asking voters to approve a substitute tax levy.

If voters approve the 5.63-mill, five-year tax issue, which would replace an expiring, five-year 6.16-mills substitute levy, it would lower their annual school tax bill.

Currently, the owner of a $100,000 home in the Edgewood school system pays $178.50 annually under the current substitute levy.

If voters cast a “yes” vote to approve the new, lower 5.63-mill tax, that annual school tax rate for a $100,000 home would decrease to $172.42 beginning on Jan. 1, 2021 for a savings of $6.08 per year.

Projected flat state funding, said Edgewood school officials, and continued student enrollment growth in the rural, Butler County district, which includes the city of Trenton, makes it necessary for them to ask residents to continue the substitute levy for another five years.

“With our growing enrollment numbers bringing increased expenditures and flat funding projections from the state, our district is relying on these dollars to operate,” said Edgewood Treasure Randy Stiver.

“The good news is this levy means no new taxes for our residents,” said Stiver.

In 2016, voters in Monroe Schools overwhelming approved a substitute levy – by at 72 to 28 percent vote margin - that lowered their annual tax bills.

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The local tax revenue from the current levy, which was first approved by voters in 2010 and renewed in 2015, is a significant portion of Edgewood Schools’ annual operating budget, said Stiver.

The levy will collect $2.7 million annually, which is $200,000 more than the originally-voted amount from 2010, and the amount that was renewed by voters in 2015, he said.

“The $2.7 million represents about 7.2 percent of the district’s ($38.1 million) annual budget and is crucial to our district’s operations,” said Stiver.

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School officials recently released a statement noting under Ohio school law, a substitute levy is the only type of ballot issue that can replace an existing substitute levy and the tax issues can be for five years, 10 years or continuous.

A substitute levy allows a school district to collect a small amount of increased property tax revenue from any new construction that occurs inside the district boundaries during each tax year.

Moreover, said officials, since the proposed substitute levy is not considered a new levy, qualifying property owners will not lose the 12.5 percent in rollback and homestead credits they currently receive.

Edgewood Schools Superintendent Russ Fussnecker said “It’s important that our voters understand this levy would help maintain programs and staffing levels currently in place.”

“This ballot issue will allow us to continue to deliver education to our students along with the extra-curricular activities that are so highly valued by our students and families,” said Fussnecker.