Bonds were sold for this renovation. Looks the same as before
This card lists seven key facts about why taxpayers should vote for the levy. All of those reasons purport this levy to be a "maintenance" levy.
By whose standards do we determine just how much the district needs to maintain our schools? What does the leadership consider necessary to provide an education to our students? We have never been told how much will be enough. We, the taxpayers, have to sacrifice something in order to pay more taxes. We have to give up a few meals out, a steak now and then, needed repairs to our property etc. What does the district sacrifice? Nothing.
Local papers support the schools with few questions asked. The Pulse would not exist if they didn't report school news. Almost every page has news about one activity or another. I have never known a local paper that didn't endorse a school levy. Even the "letters to the editor" read as though a public relations specialist has written them. Often they are signed by teachers or former teachers of the district. I happen to know that "sample letters" are written by specialists at a much higher level. Remember that the union receives the bulk of the funds not dedicated to bond issue payments.
Emergency levies are technically dollar amount levies. In 2010 the district declared an "emergency" and placed a $4,200,000.00 levy on the ballot and in 2011 another $3,000,000.00. The two added up to $7,200,000.00 in new funds. Did anyone tell us why the district had such a huge EMERGENCY and just where did they spend that money? We have been told over and over that there has been a "freeze" on salaries. Is that true? Of course when you voluntarily send your hard earned money to a government entity without asking questions, you can bet you will not be given any explanations.
In 1998 a 2.00 mill permanent improvement levy was passed, 2001 a 5.00 mill bond issue was passed for 28 years, 2013 a 37 year bond issue at 1.87 mills along with a 0.50 - 23 year additional levy. The total millage collected is 59.21 mills which reduces to 36.160117 plus the inside millage of 63.82 equals a total effective millage assessed at 40.770117. You can call the auditor and ask for the way these numbers are calculated, but the bottom line is that we are paying higher and higher taxes. That inside number is 30.25 for Clinton-Massie and they do have new schools. You can also find the numbers for many districts listed in an Enquirer article.
The 1.87 mill levy generates $1,444,804.00 per year which adds up to $53,457,750.00 over 37 years. (Much of that total is interest to a bank.) The .5 mill levy generates $387,208.00 per year. Assuming the same collection for 23 years it would generate $8,905,784.00 over 23 years. (more if the real estate evaluation increases.) Just these two levies transfers $1.832,012.00 annually out of the pockets of the local property owners.
The demands MUST continue to escalate because the district teacher's union has a contract that states that they will get a raise every year. In addition to that raise the union negotiates for another raise. Recently the Mason Teacher's Union negotiated for a new contract and threatened to go on strike. Many did pickett the school. In reality, employees receive two raises per year.
The school districts have found that declaring an emergency and asking for more money usually gives incentives to the parents and teachers into working hard for these levies. These emergencies will keep reoccurring because school districts are not in business of saving money. Before an emergency five year levy is about to expire, they must ask for it to be renewed. They are used to those millions and have already spent them in advance.
The district has not told the taxpayers that they received thousands of extra money from the Federal government, they have received the following from the Rockies Express pipeline and will receive higher amounts in the future:
2014 $1,203,249.00 (half)
The district also is receiving a large sum from the new Racino. They receive state and federal funds in addition to the local property taxes. They spend it all and borrow millions of dollars that they never tell us about. For example they sold $3 ++ million dollars worth of bonds in 2011 for "energy conservation." This was a highly controversial project that used a local "consultant" who spoke at a board meeting. No one was impressed with his suggestions. In 2010 they borrowed $1 ++ million for a lease/purchase agreement with Huntington Bank (Did board member Chip Bonney work there at that time?) In 2006 they sold notes for $6,100,000.00 (the reason is not listed in the budget.) There are other loans for the purpose of purchasing buses. They also borrowed other amounts through the years.
A few years ago the district got rid of district owned buses and signed a multi-million dollar contract with the Laidlaw bus company. The school board went along with that deal. Laidlaw either went out of business or changed it's name. Recently the district decided to buy buses and handle the transportation of students internally. These decisions have created huge debts to the district and unnecessary expenses due to incompetent management. The Purchased Services line in the budget was $6,708,026.00 in 2007. That would include Laidlaw's fees. At that time we paid the drivers, mechanics and provided the facilities in addition to Laidlaw's fees.
Total Real Estate Taxes Distributed to LCSD for the following years:
These numbers do not include funds from the state or federal government. This is only real estate taxes from Warren County - LCSD property owners.
The district has a stagnant enrollment. Some grades are smaller than in past years. The district is receiving new money from the Racino and the Rockies Express pipeline. These are windfall sources that did not exist in past years. Between 2000 and 2007 the taxes more than doubled.
Just how young must they be to promote a levy?
Never vote for another school levy. We are never told the truth. Now they have more money with the new bond issue. They have never told the taxpayers what they plan to build and how they plan to spend all of those millions. Inquiring minds want to know.
* District audits may be found at the Ohio State Auditor's web site.