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3.9-Mill Levy May be Headed to the Ballot in May

School board to review the proposal on Tuesday.

It won’t be a complete surprise to the Lakewood School Board that the administration is looking to put a 3.9-mill operating levy before voters on May 7.

Board members have known for a while that some sort of financial assistance was needed to stop the bleeding from cuts in state funding and dwindling property values.

The district made $4 million in cuts last year, however most of the layoffs were reversed in the fall.

Superintendent Jeff Patterson is expected to formally introduce a measure to school board on Tuesday to place the operational levy on the ballot.

He told Lakewood Patch on Thursday that the levy would cost owners of a $100,000 home $10 per month.

“We’re very strategic about the 3.9 mills because we want to make sure we’re financial able to do things we want to do and keep the excellent programs we have now,” he said. 

Last year, Patterson hosted a series of public community meetings around the city where residents voiced their opinions on programs and services that shouldn’t be cut — including arts, technology, music and sports.

Those programs were spared during the 2012 round of $4 million in cuts.

“If we’re not successful, we’re going to have to look at some additional reductions,” Patterson said. "We can continue to have an excellent school district without asking for more than we need to ask.”

He said, should the voters OK the measure, the district wouldn’t need to go back to voters for at least three years, “unless there was some great, unforeseen tragedy.”

The board has until Jan. 27 to file with the Cuyahoga County Auditor’s Office for the May 7 election.

“Part of the discussion is going to be that we have to keep this millage within reason,” Linda Beebe, the board vice president, recently said. “We’re not talking about going out and asking for 12 mills. We have to be very aware of how much we can ask for from the residents of Lakewood.”

In addition to the levy item, Patterson is expected to ask the board to review a measure that would put the shuttered McKinley Elementary School up for sale.

Chris Olsen January 18, 2013 at 08:43 PM
ALL OF THE EMPTY SCHOOLS MUST BE SOLD.....I WILL NOT APPROVE ANY LEVY UNTIL THE BOARD COMES OUT WITH A PLAN TO LIQUIDATE ANY EMPTY SCHOOL BOARD OWNED BUILDINGS IN THIS CITY...I ABSOLUTELY RESOLVE TO RALLY MY NEIGHBORS AND FRIENDS ACROSS LAKEWOOD TO STAND WITH ME IN THIS PROCLOMATION...THE TIME HAS COME FOR 100% ACCOUNTABILITY, YES, THE BOARD HAS DONE A GOOD JOB BUT EMPTY BUILDINGS THAT ARE NOT BEING USED OR USED TO 100% CAPACITY MUST BE ELIMINATED ASAP.
Brian Andrews January 18, 2013 at 08:51 PM
No
Shelley January 18, 2013 at 09:15 PM
Re zone me back to the school that is .3 of a mile from home instead of 1.2 miles and I may think about it despite the fact that my home purchased in 1995 is underwater due to the McDonalds they put across the end of my street. I see more homes torn down or auctioned than sold in what was the "good end" of Lakewood which is slowly becoming a dump and I am going to pay more to live by the new section 8 neighbors because my old neighbors had to rent out their homes to move??? Probably not.
Shelley January 18, 2013 at 09:16 PM
Yep. And attend the nearest school for safety.
kandysmom January 18, 2013 at 10:20 PM
When the school boards starts worrying more about education and not the dress code it MIGHT pass, but I think we are about TAXED out in Lakewood.
Chris January 18, 2013 at 10:33 PM
I agree with selling the unused buildings. I am sure it costs money to keep them.
DENNY MASSIMIANI January 18, 2013 at 11:44 PM
good people are already moving out of lakewood because of extremely high taxes, lakewood is going bad fast, its just not worth the high taxes to live here anymore!!!
Cindy Schneider January 19, 2013 at 01:26 AM
The schools need to be funded in a different way, I can not afford higher taxes for the schools and afford to maintain my aging property...It is just to much, something has to be done.....
ian king January 19, 2013 at 05:12 AM
Totally agree with all the comments. With a tax on my annual earned income that I pay to Lakewood, (in addition to Ohio state and IRS) and with a tax on my house/real estate that I pay to Lakewood, I am taxed out! This is a small town of less than 60,000 residents - with a declining population - and we are to continually pay more and more and now - an increase over $ 100+ more a year to live here? NO! The Board/City Government needs to sell the empty schools or develop them into elderly apartments or artist studios/art galleries = something that will be income producing please!! The Taft elementary school on Lake and Whippoorwill is a great example of a property sitting empty in a very desirable neighborhood. Why not develop this into something that will produce income? Or SELL IT! Wake up Lakewood School Board and City Officials = times have changed and there is a noticeable decline happening in the city. With an aging population, an aging housing stock, businessess closing, you can't just keep raising taxes. Think out of the box and reinvent this city so it can survive the future! Without thinking of raising taxes as the only way to generate income. That is old school/Rust Belt thinking we cannot allow anymore!
DLSJR January 19, 2013 at 06:47 PM
Sorry kids I voted for every levy in the past, but this time around No. The article before this one proves that the school board mismanages their funds. They are possibly throwing away 160,000 a year by having 4 empty buildings, and some buildings have been vacant for a few years. Each expense this city adds to my commercial properties just devalues them. This year I will have to raise rent for the first time in 3 years, or go to the county and lower my properties values.
Chris Olsen January 20, 2013 at 01:50 AM
Hey. What about that 100k in casino taxes we received?
The original Bill January 20, 2013 at 02:43 PM
You people are ragging about 30 cents a day? Really? You do realize that the schools treasurer researched this issue and came up with the $3.9 mil amount as what was needed to simply keep the schools doing what they are doing now. Sure they could sell the empty schools but by state law they have to first be offered to a private or charter school and be used as a school. If no interest is shown for that then they can be put on the open market. Does anybody on here know anyone who wants to buy one of these schools? People are not exactly wrestling each other for the opportunity to buy old school buildings in North East Ohio. @Chris that $100k the schools recieved from the casino taxes by law goes into the capital improvement fund. This is an operating levy we are talking about. Even if they could use it for operating, how far do you think $100k would go to help with the additional $3.9 Million needed?
ian king January 20, 2013 at 03:29 PM
Hi Bill - it isn't about the 30 cents a day = which btw, is not accurate. If your house is valued over $ 100,000 + , it is more than 30 cents a day. It is the CUMULATIVE amount of tax we pay. Lakewood has among the highest property taxes in NE Ohio, and combine those real estate taxes with the tax I also have to pay on my earned income, and the CUMULATIVE amount is not low. When a citizen of Lakewood with a home valued around $ 180,000 and an income less than $ 80,000 is paying close to $ 5000 a year in real estate and income taxes just to Lakewood (plus taxes to Ohio and the Federal IRS), then something has to stop - you cannot continue to tax your residents endlessly. For most citizens this new levy - over a 3 year period - is going to cost several hundreds of dollars, not just 30 cents a day.
The original Bill January 20, 2013 at 05:42 PM
When I moved into Lakewood 26 years ago from West Park I knew before I bought my house that Lakewood had the highest property taxes west of the Cuyahoga. Did that stop me from buying? No because I knew that the schools were among the best in NE Ohio and the residents supported their schools knowing full well that having a good school system helps keep up the value of the housing stock. I still vote in favor of every levy on the ballot because I know that the schools are doing everything possible to keep the rising costs under control. Look around at other school systems that have their hat out every 3 years looking for more money. Lakewood passed a levy in 2002 and they promised that it would last 3 years. It lasted 8 years. Show me another school district where that happened. If you don't support the schools then don't complain when cuts are made in educational programs and the resulting drop in the efficiency of the schools causes the value of your house to drop. (see Cleveland)
KRMS January 20, 2013 at 05:44 PM
I will not be voting for this increase either. There are section 8 landlords getting top dollar for their property and most have multiple children living there. Let people with the children getting the tax breaks and landlords benefitting pay more. Some doubles have 5, 6, 7 or more kids and that properties taxes did not increase to reflect such.
Chris Olsen January 20, 2013 at 09:47 PM
All I know is that my house is appraised at 246k which will be 25 bucks a month. My wife and I earn over 150 k and just gave Obama back 2.4 % of our paycheck and I am losing some tax credits this year. Oh, and I will have three kids in college next year. Lakewood will NOT be getting my vote on this levy or any other anymore
ian king January 20, 2013 at 10:51 PM
Hi Original Bill - if only the school system were the only thing that causes a drop in Lakewood real estate! I wish! Take a look at the east side of Lakewood = declining apt. buildings, unkept yards, in need of repair and updating houses, etc. THESE affect property values as much as a school system's reputation. Also, empty storefronts, more Dollar Stores, more fast food restaurants, etc. THESE also impact a city's real estate. It is a lot more than just the school system today Bill. In fact, with a declining population, old stock housing, and an increasing aging population, Lakewood has very serious issues regarding its budget, let alone its school system.
The original Bill January 20, 2013 at 11:44 PM
So your idea on how to fix all of that is to choke the schools. I see.
ian king January 21, 2013 at 01:32 AM
Hi original Bill - no, you have it backwards = the more the schools tax us, the less money we citizens of Lakewood have to support other options of life in Lakewood; meaning, more taxes to Lakewood schools = less money to spend on Lakewood restaurants; more taxes to Lakewood schools = less money to attend an event at the Beck Center for the Arts; more taxes to Lakewood schools = less money to maintain/update/repair my aging house. The obvious point I am trying to make is that it is time to not assume that the citizens of Lakewood are willing to be taxed to make up budget deficits for the Lakewood schools. With empty school buildings, it is time to think creatively. With declining population, it is time to think outside the box. With no new businesses of any large scale wanting to build or relocated to Lakewood, it is time to get rid of the old Rust Belt approach to taxes and the tax base. So "the original Bill" = lets demand the School Board and our elected officials start to think outside the tax box = as in your name, BE ORIGINAL to solving Lakewood's many problems.
Shelley January 21, 2013 at 01:53 AM
18 years ago when I moved here from Strongsville and lost started paying 2 city income taxes as working in Cleveland and living in Strongsville I only had to pay once plus the increase in property tax it was to enjoy the charm and enjoy the short ride to work. Part of the decision of my purchase was knowing that being in my late 20's I would have a child and that the child would have a safe, short walk to school. I had the child and go to send it school only to find I have been "re-districted" by the wisdom of the school board and 15 years of shoveling snow for kids to walk past my home to the nearer school. MY child and what they tell me is my neighborhood is now .9 miles further than the other school, which is still open, and is a walk all the way down Detroit Ave. Sounds real safe for the little one, right Bill? I think not! This will be my first NO vote also in all my years here.

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