Switzerland will move ahead with levy on ballot

The Switzerland of Ohio Local school district will put a levy before voters in November, its third in the last year.

District Treasurer Lance Erlwein said the board voted Thursday to proceed with a five-year, emergency operating levy designed to collect $3 million a year. The precise millage amount will be determined by the Monroe County auditor, he said.

A final resolution for the levy is expected to be passed during a special board meeting at 8 a.m. Friday in the administration office, Erlwein said.

A three-year, 2.35-mill permanent improvement levy was rejected by voters in November 2012, and a five-year, 6.44-mill emergency levy fell about 200 votes short in May. The latter issue would have raised approximately $2.5 million per year.

Switzerland board of education Vice President Edward Carleton said a higher amount is being sought with the upcoming levy because the district’s finances aren’t getting any better.

“We’re going to go another year without any money,” he said.

After the May levy failure, the district moved forward with a number of money-saving measures, including the elimination of about 40 jobs and cancellation of plans to hire school resource officers to bolster building safety. The board also approved an increase in pay-to-participate fees for sports from $10 per student, per sport to $200 for the high school level and $100 for junior high.

District officials have said if new funding is not approved by June of 2014, sports will be eliminated and other major cuts, perhaps including building closure, would follow.

The district is still involved in an Ohio School Facilities Commission project to renovate and replace its buildings, once ranked the worst in the state. The local share of the $89 million project is being funded by a bond issue approved in 2009.

Those funds are completely separate from the operating revenue the district is having to slash to keep the district in the black.

Cuts in state funding and diminishing enrollment have contributed to the district’s current financial position, along with the rejection of the renewal of a permanent improvement levy voters first approved in 1996.

The situation has caused frustration among residents, both those who resent being asked to pay additional taxes and those who worried about the cuts that have resulted from the levy rejections.