Saturday, May 22, 1999

Princeton seeks 3.95-mill levy

Money would maintain school staff

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        SHARONVILLE — The Princeton school board voted this week to place a 3.95-mill tax issue on the August ballot to raise money for operating expenses.

        Revenue from the levy is expected to maintain staffing and programming planned for the 1999-2000 school year, maintain community schools and services such as nurses, counselors and transportation.

        The board voted 4-0 on Wednesday to place the levy on the Aug. 4 ballot. If approved, the levy would cost the owner of an $80,000 home $96.78 in new taxes, according to the district.

        “We believe we can make it with the projections we have now and with prudent fiscal containment be able to have an excellent school district,” said Board President Martha Iskyan. “We have excellent teachers and will give the students the best education we can buy and also satisfy the residents.”

        School officials have said voters must pass a levy this year to avoid budget cuts in the 2000-2001 school year.

        In November, voters defeated a 6.5-mill levy that was to raise about $10 million annually to meet expenses. Without the levy, the board voted to cut $4 million from the 1999-2000 budget.

        In February, the board placed a 4.95-mill tax levy on the May ballot for general operating expenses.

        In March, however, the board took it off after residents raised questions and said May was not the time for a tax levy.

        If approved by voters, the levy would last about five years and begin generating revenue in 2000. An estimated $2.27 million would be collected in 2000 and about $6.1 million in follow ing years, according to the district.

        The district estimates the levy would last through school year 2004-2005 if spending increases are kept at or below three percent. If spending is kept at that level, Princeton would come back to voters for another levy in 2004.

        An independent group of Princeton citizens looked at the district's finances and concluded that the district was willing to trim some of the fat out of the budget.

        “Our assessment was that they made a cutback of positions and weren't adding those back in. Those were important reductions,” said George Keyser, a committee member. “It was felt they took the fat out of the system.”

        Mrs. Iskyan expects the levy campaign to be “very low-key. ... It will be very much neighbor-to-neighbor. ...”

        In the coming days, Mrs. Iskyan said she will meet with a group of residents to map out a levy campaign strategy.


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