FAQs About March Levy Issue

1. What is on the March 17, 2020 ballot for Lakewood City Schools? 

Lakewood City Schools' Board of Education voted unanimously to place a 3.9 mill levy and 1.0 mill permanent improvement (PI) levy on the March 2020 ballot. The funds from this levy would help keep Lakewood City Schools strong and would go toward:

  • Adding STEM offerings to prepare students for their futures;
  • Expanding career and technical educational opportunities for middle and high school students; 
  • Keeping educational technology and other learning materials up-to-date; 
  • Retaining and recruiting high-quality teachers by paying them competitive salaries; 
  • Providing mental health services for elementary students;  
  • Expanding early childhood programs for our community’s youngest learners; and
  • Protecting our community’s investment by keeping all of our buildings, athletic fields, vehicles, and other assets in good condition.

2. How much will this levy cost a Lakewood taxpayer?

The levy would cost a Lakewood taxpayer less than $2 per month more than they currently pay, based on a property valuation of $100,000. 

3. How can a 4.9 mill levy only cost a Lakewood taxpayer less than $2 more per month per $100,000 property value?

Due to responsible refinancing, sound financial practices, and property value growth, 4.9 mills of the District’s current debt service millage will be reduced. With the reduction in millage, a Lakewood taxpayer would not see an increase in their tax rate, and would only see a small increase in taxes. 

4. Why does the District need a levy now? 

Due to inconsistent and declining State funds, and the increasing costs of operating our schools – like healthcare and utilities – the District will start deficit spending in 2020, which means our expenditures will outpace our revenues. As good fiscal stewards, we must always be looking ahead, proactively monitoring our funding sources, and ensuring our District remains strong while continuing to provide the educational excellence that residents expect.

To read our five-year forecast, visit the www.lakewoodcityschools.org/Content/levy2020

5. Is this levy for a continuing period of time?

Yes. This issue will be for a continuing period of time to ensure a steady, stable funding stream to allow our District to provide high-quality education.

6. Is Lakewood City Schools fiscally responsible?

Yes. The District stretched its last operating levy for six years with staffing and operational efficiencies, reductions in long-term costs, and saving millions in future debt service costs through responsible refinancing. But with the District starting to deficit spend in 2020, the Board of Education must look ahead to ensure our District remains stable and continues to provide the educational excellence that residents expect.

7. With Lakewood’s property values increasing, has the District received more money from its past levies? 

Unfortunately, no. Due to House Bill 920 passed by the Ohio General Assembly in 1976, the District does not benefit from the inflationary growth of its tax base. Even when property values increase while a levy is in effect, the amount of the taxes collected does not increase. 

8. What is the difference between an operating levy and permanent improvement levy, and why do we need both?

Money from an operating levy is used for the operation of the school district, including supplies and equipment, essential school programs, teaching staff and services. A permanent improvement levy goes toward any asset with a useful life of five years or more, as determined by the District treasurer, such as technology, equipment, buildings, fields, and vehicles. The Ohio Revised Code states that each type of funding be used for the corresponding purpose.

9. What happens if this levy doesn’t pass in March?

Without this funding, the administration and Board of Education would have to make some difficult decisions in regards to its resources and next steps. The District will start deficit spending in 2020, so it is imperative that leaders work to ensure the District remains strong and continues to provide the educational excellence that residents expect.

10. How do I register to vote or update my voter registration? 

There are a few ways to choose from:

  • You can register to vote or update your Ohio voting address electronically on the Secretary of State website.
  • You can print a blank registration form from the Secretary of State website.
  • You can call the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections at 216-443-3298 for a Voter Registration Card to be mailed to you. Complete it and mail it back.

You may also register at one of the following locations in Lakewood:

  • Bureau of Vocational Rehabilitation, 14650 Detroit Ave., Ste. 200, 44107
  • Lakewood High School (Main Office), 14100 Franklin Avenue, 44107
  • Lakewood Library, 15424 Detroit Avenue, 44107
  • Lakewood WIC, 15224 Madison Avenue, 44107
  • Madison Branch Library, 13229 Madison Avenue, 44107
  • St. Edward High School, 13500 Detroit Avenue, 44107
Read More on Schools
Volume 16, Issue 2, Posted 2:29 PM, 01.08.2020