It is not something that happens often, but the Fairfield Local School District announced Tuesday that it will not ask district property owners next month to renew a 4.5-mill permanent improvement that has been in place the last eight years.
“It’s something that almost never happens,” Fairfield school board member Ron Friend said. “We’re just blessed, and because of that, at least at this point in time, we really do not need it.”
Friend said the levy has produced an average of $320,000 to $330,000 annually for the school district in recent years.
Its removal, Highland County Auditor Bill Fawley said, will save the owner of a $100,000 property in the school district $141.75 per year. Those savings can be more or less depending on the value of the property.
Fawley said the levy that is being dropped has already expired and the former bill for it will not be on district property owners’ tax bill in January.
There are three main reasons, the school board said in a news release, why the levy is no longer needed:
• Superintendent Bill Garrett and treasurer Bart Barber have done “an excellent job in managing the district’s resources.”
• The state of Ohio increased the district’s foundation funding by 27 percent in 2015-16 and gave the district another 11 percent increase in 2016-17.
• Garrett’s and Barber’s work, the permanent improvement levy the last eight years, plus the additional state funds have put the district, “In the best financial situation in the history of the school.”
Fairfield still has two bond levies in place, one that Friend said has a few years left on it and was used to help build the existing building; and a levy passed earlier this year that is supposed to produce $4.5 million over 28 years to build eight new classrooms, a multipurpose room for physical education, a cafeteria, and a new track and field/soccer complex. Most of that work is complete.
There is more good news for the district, the board of education said, citing the following reasons in the news release:
• Refinancing bonds on the district’s original building dropped the millage from 2.42 to 1.92 mills.
• There was no increase in health insurance premiums for 2016-17, thanks to the oversight of Garrett and Barber.
• The new wing at the school is up and operating and the final touches on the soccer/track facilities are in the works.
“We as a board realize that by eliminating a revenue stream (4.5-mill permanent improvement levy) we will need to make every effort to provide the best for our students while spending your resources wisely,” the news release said.
Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522 or on Twitter @13gillilandj.