May 3 Ballot: Renewing School Levies Issues 3 & 4

On May 3, Xenia voters will determine Xenia School officials will have enough money to convert one of the abandoned elementary schools (i.e. Arrowwood) into a new office building.

Voters should remember that they passed 1/2% income tax levy with the passing of the bond issue. By renewing the 1/2% income tax due to expire, taxpayers will be paying 1% of their incomes to our schools. In addition to the property taxes.

It would be a dream come true if voter turnout was nearly 100 percent or at least comparable to November turn outs. However, public officials depend on low voter turn out during off-season elections. That is because those showing up at the polls are mostly those officials have convinced to support their issue.

Nevertheless, the issue is whether our school officials actually need more of our incomes to either convert good school buildings for their preferred uses and/or to maintain the 3 other schools. I answer is no they do not.

The $5 million projected budget deficit may be real. But seeing budgets are always bloated by about 10% for contingencies, it just as likely the deficit is on paper only. In other words, it justifies their plans to close schools for the building program and to convert one into a new office complex.

To prove public institutions over-budget by around 10%, let’s look at the 2009 City fiscal audit.
The City projected operating expenditures would be $16,497,434 but actual reported expenditures were $15,195,407. This shows the budget was 8% over actual costs. The was true of revenues. City management’s estimated budget 8% higher than actual income ($16,457,683 budget and $15,096,409 actual). After looking at the schools financial audits, it appears that the officials have consistently over budgeted projection to around 3 percent. That means the school budget was $1.4 million less than actual expenditures last year.

The last fiscal audit showed a district-wide operating deficit of a little over $3 million. The reasons were all related to the recessionary economy except for an increase of salaries and benefits. It looks like the increase was in the range of 4-6 percent or $2-3 million.

Repeating the question, do school officials need another 1/2% of our income, which by the way amount to nearly $2 million? Should taxpayers funded converting usable school facilities into new offices?

What school officials should do is repair the old historic building they currently occupy. With appropriate renovations, the landmark could be restored to a well-functioning office building. In fact, all of the continuing income tax dollars could have been used to do that long ago. The other 1/2% income tax levy should be sufficient for maintenance and repair of the high school and the two middle schools.

The previously mentioned $2 million might do more to help the local community if spent at local businesses.

For those all of those reasons, Issue 4 should not be renewed. The school district actually does need the operating levy (Issue 3) renewed.

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