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North Royalton voters approve school levy; Strongsville Schools levy defeated

November 7, 2018

North Royalton voters approve school levy; Strongsville Schools levy defeated

STRONGSVILLE, Ohio – Voters in the Strongsville City School District resoundingly defeated the 7.9-mill new money levy on tonight’s ballot. The vote was 12,329 against vs. 7,583 for, with 61.92 percent of voters opposing the levy, according to final, unofficial results from the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections.

In the North Royalton City School District, voters approved a 10-year, 16.5-mill levy that replaces three existing property taxes that were set to expire over the next few years.

According to final, unofficial results from the Board of Elections, the North Royalton levy passed with 55.31 percent of the vote, with 8,608 yes tallies against 6,955 no votes.

“I want to thank the North Royalton community for their support of our schools,” said Superintendent Greg Gurka. “Passage of Issue 6 will allow us to maintain current programs and services and the high-quality education provided by North Royalton City Schools.

“We will continue to communicate and educate the community as to all the positive things that occur in our classrooms on a daily basis, as well as the needs we have as a district,” he said.

Strongsville levy

Earlier this year, Strongsville City School District officials said they needed the new 7.9-mill tax, which appeared as Issue 8 on Tuesday’s ballot, because it would generate a much-needed $11.3 million annually for operating expenses, including teachers’ salaries.

The tax would have cost the owner of a Strongsville home valued at $100,000 an additional $23 a month, or $276 a year, district officials said. Property owners currently pay about $1,256 a year in taxes to the district, according to calculations based on Ohio Department of Taxation records.

In May, district officials said that, without the new tax, Strongsville schools would start deficit spending in 2019 -- meaning that expenses would exceed revenues and that the district would need to tap into its savings to balance the budget -- until district savings are wiped out in 2022.

Strongsville school board members said state funding cuts to local school districts have made a tax increase necessary.

Also, Cleveland Clinic -- which has a Strongsville office in front of SouthPark Mall --was recently awarded property tax-exempt status retroactive to 2012. It means the district will lose another $400,000 in annual property taxes and must refund the Clinic $2 million in past taxes, school district officials have said.

Even with the new tax, a 2002 five-year levy (which voters last renewed in 2016) and a 2007 continuous levy (which is permanent) would both remain in place. Those levies generate a total of $17.1 million a year, according to the district. The new tax would also have been permanent.

Superintendent Cameron Ryba said the new levy would have allowed the district to maintain its existing level of staffing, programs and services through the 2025-2026 school year.

North Royalton levy

The North Royalton City Schools levy combines and replaces three existing property taxes that support the school district.

The levy will generate $17.8 million a year for operating expenses, including teachers’ salaries, according to school district officials.

Issue 6 will not raise or change taxes for property owners, who are now paying a total of about $536 a year for every $100,000 in property valuation on the three existing 10-year tax levies.

The North Royalton City School District faced the expiration of the three existing operating taxes in quick succession. A levy approved by voters in 2009 generates $6.7 million a year, and levies approved in 2010 and 2011 generate $6.7 million and $4.4 million, respectively.

The three taxes bring in a total of $17.8 million annually. They would have expired in 2019, 2020 and 2021. The district’s annual operating budget is about $50 million, district officials said.

Gurka said the district cannot operate without either the three separate taxes or the combined tax.

Gurka said the administration and board considered seeking renewal of each tax individually, in 2019, 2020 and 2021. However, the district was concerned about creating “voter fatigue” by asking voters to return to the polls every year.

Also, it would cost the district up to $67,500 for each tax renewal it places on the ballot, starting in 2019. Placing a combined levy on Tuesday’s ballot has cost the district nothing, since Ohio’s gubernatorial election was already scheduled for this month, Gurka said.

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