COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — At least a dozen school districts in central Ohio will ask voters on Nov. 8 to ratify property tax levies, including two that would fund construction projects.
What are bonds and levies, and what is millage?
Public schools in Ohio receive money in different ways. On the local level, funding comes mostly through property taxes — and sometimes, income taxes, too.
Any Ohio school’s board of education can request more revenue from residents through proposed tax levies — on property or income — that appear on the ballot for voters to decide. If a majority vote “yes,” then county officials will begin charging and collecting what was outlined in the levy for a given number of years, and that money will then go to the school district.
According to the Ohio School Boards Association, a 1976 state law mandates that even if property value increases once voters pass a levy, the amount an individual or business is taxed on their property will not.
A bond levy or issue deals with construction or renovation projects, while general levies tackle “any school district purpose, but primarily for either operating expenses or permanent improvement funding,” according to the association.
“Mills” are the unit for property tax rates, and they are one-tenth of a cent. For a house appraised at $200,000, 1 mill is equal to $200 in taxes.
For more information about school levies, the Ohio School Boards Association has a frequently asked questions fact sheet here.
Residents of the Pickerington school district in Fairfield and Franklin counties will see an $89.93-million bond issue on their ballot that would contribute money to projects within the district’s larger plan to address its fast-growing enrollment.
The plan includes construction of a new junior high school with room for up to 1,300 students, renovation of Ridgeview Junior High School, and renovation of Central and North high schools through adding more classrooms and safer entryways.
If the 2.8-mill bond issue passes, Pickerington Local Schools would also qualify for an extra $75 million from the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission that would fund future projects in a number of its buildings.
Voters have rejected two previous attempts by the district — in May 2021 and November 2020 — to raise funds for construction and renovation projects via bonds on the ballot, according to an Ohio School Boards Association database. The voted-down 2021 bond was $5 million more, at $95 million.
Pickerington Local Schools, on its website, refers to what’s on the Nov. 8 ballot as “the leanest request possible to meet the facility needs of the district.”
Worthington schools in Franklin County will ask voters within the district to decide two issues on the ballot, including a combined bond issue and permanent improvement levy, as well as a general levy.
The $234-million, 1.9-mill combined bond issue and levy would funnel money to the school district’s second phase of its broader facilities plan.
If passed, the bond issue would allocate funds to the reconstruction of Thomas Worthington High School and renovations at Worthington Kilbourne High School, while the levy would address “ongoing needs for school buses, maintenance of our facilities, back-end technology, playground equipment, and furniture,” according to the school district’s website.
Voters last ratified an $89-million bond issue in 2018, which carried the district through the first phase of its facilities plan — including large renovations to four middle schools.
The general levy, according to the its website, would cover current costs facing the district.
Other school tax levies in central Ohio
A number of other school boards have proposed tax levies on the ballot. Some of these include:
- Delaware City Schools voters will see a 5.8-mill substitute tax levy
- Jefferson Local School District in Madison County voters are being asked about a 5.78-mill substitute tax levy
- New Albany-Plain Local Schools voters will see a 1.75-mill, five-year general permanent improvements tax levy that would allocate money toward general repairs and replacements of “safety and security equipment, heating and cooling systems, school buses, facilities and campus infrastructure, and technology,” according to the school district’s website
- Upper Arlington City School District voters are being asked about a 6.9-mill additional current operating expenses tax levy. The district website says it would go toward daily operating costs and, in property taxes, would add around $241.50 each year per $100,000 of home value
- Granville Exempted Village Schools voters will see a 0.75% renewal income tax levy