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Mechanicsburg withdraws levy request

Wording problem led to ballot issue’s removal, but new request expected.


The Mechanicsburg Exempted Village School District has withdrawn its levy from the May ballot because of a wording error.

The district still faces a budget crisis in 2014 without new operating money, said Superintendent Dan Kaffenbarger, and the board is mulling a return to the ballot later this year.

“The need is still there, so we’ll just have to step back and decide on what the next step is,” he said.

The board of education placed a renewal of a 2.3-mill levy that will expire at the end of 2014 and an increase of 5.85 mills — a combined 8.15-mill issue that would raise taxes about $180 for the owner of a $100,000 home — on the May 7 ballot. The ballot language said the levy would begin being collected in January 2014.

The board of elections wasn’t sure if the money could be collected in January 2014 or if it had to wait until the original levy expired, said Kaffenbarger. The attorney general issued an opinion that the money could not be collected until 2015 and the wording was incorrect the day of the deadline to submit an issue for the ballot.

“That defeated the purpose because we don’t need the money 18 months from now, we needed it as soon as possible,” he said.

Kaffenbarger asked for an extension so the board could still put an issue before voters in May but it wasn’t granted.

The board wanted to combine the issues to consolidate the number of trips to the ballot for renewals, but with no additional funding for the district in Gov. John Kasich’s proposed budget, the district faces fiscal emergency and state oversight, said Kaffenbarger.

The district eliminated 16 positions last year and shares a superintendent and a treasurer with another district to try to close its budget gap.

“We’re doing everything that the pundits in Columbus said we needed to do, and we’re still not getting any relief,” he said. “I don’t know where in this organization, as lean as it is at this point, I don’t know where we’ll cut.”


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