O-M district plans to reduce levy
ODESSA--The Odessa-Montour school board decided to pursue a $15.5 million budget with a 1 percent decrease to the tax levy on the proposed budget at a workshop meeting Thursday, April 16.
The meeting was for the purpose of forming a budget the board would vote on in a week, Wednesday, April 22. Thursday, May 19, the budget will go before the voters for their approval.
The board debated whether, and how much, to reduce the levy, weighing reductions between 0 and 2 percent, estimating how much each option would impact the budget and planning for possible future developments.
"The purpose of the meeting was to look at scenarios where, instead of going up to the cap, with a 23.7 percent increase, we looked at possibly reducing the levy or at least keeping it even," Robert Halpin, president of the board, said.
Some members of the board argued it would be better for them to ease the tax levy if the district's financial situation is relatively comfortable. Christian Mathis, a member of the board, said even a 1 percent reduction of the levy would be good for the taxpayers.
"We're trying to provide a great school, a great facility, we're making the improvements," he said. "But at this point we're also trying to walk that fine line of being comfortable financially but also paying attention to them and that we don't need to milk them completely every single year. We can give them a little bit back."
The board discussed the possibility of additional unforeseen expenses or changes in their revenue sources. They discussed the possibility of additional special education students arriving. Bill McDonald, school business official, estimated O-M would receive approximately $10,257,384 in state aid, but suggested that number would likely vary, and a better estimate would be available at the end of June.
"This is what amazed me when I first got on the board," Halpin said, "is that nobody has any idea how much money we're going to have next year."
Halpin said the board should be cautious about reducing the levy because of what they could not know for certain at this point, especially given how soon they would have to approve a budget.
"At this point, I have to be conservative and say I can't really strongly advocate for a 2 percent reduction when I don't know what the impact of that will be, or I don't have a good feeling as to what the projected impact of that is going to be," Halpin said. "I'd like to be able to, but at this point, I don't really have the data to do that."
The board did not go into executive session, and voted to adjourn at around 7:35 p.m.