Because operational costs keep increasing, Four County Career Center in Archbold will ask voters Nov. 8 for new money for the first time in 29 years.
The requested 1-mill continuing levy would generate just over $3 million annually, costing the owner of a $100,000 home $2.92 per month.
The money would shore up the three mills of a continuing 3.2-mill levy earmarked for operations. The new levy would assist with rising operational costs the current levy can no longer maintain due to increases.
“When you don’t ask for money for close to 30 years, it catches up with you,” FCCC Superintendent Tim Meister said.
FCCC lost about half a million dollars each year after Gov. John Kasich vetoed, without explanation, funds issued from the Hold Harmless Agreement to the state’s career centers. That agreement was passed by legislators several years ago to offset revenue schools lost when the Tangible Personal Property (TPP) tax was phased out of existence.
The career center, which supports 22 area school districts, lost about $1 million in 2011 alone due to the elimination of TTP. Swanton is the only school district in Fulton County not included.
Additionally, state cuts to career techical education have affected FCCC operations.
“All those factors have caught up to us,” Meister said.
The current levy generates $7.168 million annually, and includes local tax collections, state reimbursement, and rollback processes. It was last increased, by one mill, in 1987.
Revenue from the operating levy is used toward daily operations, school supplies, and staff salaries and benefits. When that revenue decreased, FCCC tightened its budget across the board over the last five years and reduced spending. In four of the last five years, FCCC reduced spending from the previous year.
“I’ve always believed that as a school, you have to be good stewards of the taxpayers’ money,” Meister said. “We’ve been very proud of the fact that we haven’t had to come to taxpayers for more money.”
However, due to cost increases, “This (levy) is not a want, it’s a need.”
FCCC Board of Education President Denny Vetter said the administration has effectively cut overhead costs over the last several years but can’t continue.
“We no longer have room for additional cuts and still be able to maintain the quality of education we currently provide our students,” he said. “FCCC has so many positive benefits for Defiance, Fulton, Henry, and Williams counties and communities. Some of our programs get state and national recognition with our student achievements.”
Meister said if voters turn down the levy FCCC will have to assess where further reductions would be made.
“If we’re forced to make cuts it’s really going to have an impact on kids,” he said.
David J. Coehrs can be reached at 419-335-2010.