Cue the Dragnet theme song; enter Sgt. Joe Friday who says, “Just the facts, ma’am.”
Here are the facts about the United Local permanent improvement levy on the May 6 ballot.
It’s a renewal levy – first approved in 1984 and approved every five years since then; you’ll keep paying what you’ve been paying. Those residents qualifying for homestead and rollback exemptions on their taxes will still get them since it’s a renewal. It can only be used for permanent items with a five-year life span (buses, textbooks, building improvements, etc.), not salaries or benefits.
United schools operate with two kinds of funding; the general fund and the permanent improvement fund. The general fund income is primarily from state aid, federal grants and programs, property taxes, and the income tax. General fund expenditures are for personnel, benefits, supplies, and capital expenditures. About 79 percent of United’s general fund expenditures are for employee salaries and benefits. The PI levy (if approved) would generate about $182,000 per year over the next five years.
If the PI levy does not pass, those items paid for by the PI levy will still be needed, so those expenses will have to come from the general fund. And since 79 percent of the general fund expenditures are for employee salaries and benefits, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out what would happen.
We have an excellent school district at United in fact the state has recognized our excellence in education for several years now. That’s a tribute to our entire staff, not just our teachers and administrators, but also the cooks who prepare nutritious meals, drivers who provide safe transportation, custodians who provide a safe, clean, learning environment, and all the support staff who provide for the smooth operation of our school. A lot of our staff lives in the district; they’re our neighbors, friends, and family members. We see them at sporting events, plays, concerts, the grocery store, in church, and at community events.
United has had a fiscally prudent financial planning process for many, many years that has enabled our district to weather numerous federal and state funding cuts, unfunded mandates, and the economic downturn, without sacrificing a quality education for our students. Unlike other schools in the area, United has not had any layoffs or reductions in force; we have not been asked to pay for any operating levies for many years. In fact, the last “new” money approved by United voters was when the income tax passed in the early 1990s. A good school system is an asset for local property valuations; ask any real estate person.
Keep our United Local School District the excellent district that it is support the PI levy and keep paying what you’ve been paying. The future of our excellent school district and the education of our United children depends on it.
These are “just the facts.”