Monday, April 29, 2002

Mariemont schools seek tax increase

District asks for 9.95-mill levy

By Sue Kiesewetter
Enquirer Contributor

        MARIEMONT — A 9.95-mill tax levy that the Mariemont Board of Education has put on the May 7 ballot would allow the district to meet its budget demands for another three years, district officials say.

        The continuing operating levy is expected to bring $2.48 million annually to this 1,700-pupil district in eastern Hamilton County. Without the additional dollars the district is facing a deficit in the coming school year, Superintendent Gerald Harris said.

        “The district reflects the community's desire for small classes, community schools and the best curriculum available,” Mr. Harris said. “This levy would maintain those choices and keep teachers' salaries competitive.”

        It is even more critical to renew the levy because Cincinnati Gear Co. recently shut down, school officials say.

        Property taxes the firm paid brought $250,000 annually to the district. That reduction wasn't figured into budget projections made this year when the levy was being computed, Mr. Harris said.

        “We don't know exactly when that impact will hit,” Mr. Harris said. “So we're already behind the eight ball. But we've made a promise this levy would last three years, and we will make it last three years.”

        Approving the levy would increase the taxes on a $100,000 home about $304 annually, beginning in January, Mr. Harris said.

        Parent Betsy Porst said she believes parents are willing to increase their taxes to keep quality neighborhood schools. The district met all 27 criteria on this year's Ohio Report Card.

        “We have three relatively small communities — Mariemont, Terrace Park and Fairfax — with an industry tax base that is small,” said Mrs. Porst, who is co-chairing the effort to pass the operating levy. “But we have a dedicated base of neighbors and parents who support the schools. We've never defeated a levy yet.”

        Some area apartment owners, however, have raised concerns about the levy's size. They have suggested the district might save costs by consolidating one or more of its three elementary schools.

        “The two surveys we've done show parents want to keep three separate elementary schools — one in each community,” Mrs. Porst said.


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