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Lakewood School Board Considers Finances, New Levy

Board looks at the year ahead in a meeting that lasted more than four-and-a-half hours.

Members of the Lakewood Board of Education agree that a school levy is needed to secure the financial future of the Lakewood City Schools.

But, there are still several details yet to be ironed out. 

Those details include what type of levy the district should ask Lakewood taxpayers for.

It's also unclear how much the district will ask for.

Or when. 

Board members began that discussion at a special four-hour school board meeting on Thursday.

“As I’ve said in the past, we can either continue to make significant reductions to our staff, or we can put a measure on the ballot,” said Superintendent Jeff Patterson.

John Larson, from Squire Sanders law firm, presented a few levy options to district officials.

But the seems as if the board is leaning toward a “traditional” levy for the May ballot. 

The other types include an incremental-increase levy; fixed-sum levy; a school district income tax; and combination-style levies.

“We go with what the community understands,” said board vice president Linda Beebe following the meeting. “Straight millage that comes down to so much money for the value of a $100,000 home. People can look at their own pocketbooks and say whether they will or will not be able to support the schools.”

“Some of the stuff sounds intriguing, until you think about how you’re going to explain it to people.”

She said the board will discuss the issue further at next Monday’s regular meeting.

“We’re nearing the deadline on whether we’re going to put a levy on the ballot for May,” added Beebe. “There’s a sense of urgency.” 

The board has until Jan. 27 to file with the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections for the May 7 election.

“Part of the discussion is going to be that we have to keep this millage within reason,” said Beebe. “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.”

Phase 3 construction plans

Officials said that the district may know as soon as April whether Lakewood will be awarded funding to finish the $75 million Phase 3 construction project.

In this final phase, Roosevelt and Lincoln elementary schools would either be renovated or rebuilt and half of Lakewood High School would be rebuilt. 

The school district has waited since 2007 for the final word from the Ohio Schools Facilities Commission on nearly $47 million in funding to finish the project.  Last month, the district received a glimmer of hope that the project could move forward in 2013 in the form of a letter from the state agency.

At the latest, the district would be approved in 2014.

“When the facilities commission says they’re ready to give us $47 million, it’s going to be an extra two to three mills of costs,” Beebe said. “We’ll put on a bond issue. That’s money that would come in over a period of time to repay bonds."

ian king January 11, 2013 at 09:06 PM
Lakewood is such a schizo community! Population is declining yet taxes on income rise and now another tax for the schools! Why is city government not aggressively recruiting more businesses to locate/build/relocate in Lakewood? The aging private citizens of this town cannot continue to be the "deep tax pockets" we were a decade or more ago. Lakewood is facing a very questionable financial future and to tax its citizens more and more is not the answer - especially when population is declining, and businesses (we are not talking about the small ma and pop shops Lakewood is so fond of, yet they are not by any means, a source of credible taxes for this city) are not here.

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