Perrysburg Schools says local coalition distributed misleading information on levy

Perrysburg voters will decide on five-year levy to avoid cuts recommended by audit. 

By Mike Sigov / The Blade
Wed, 09 Oct 2019 20:32:20 GMT

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Leaders at Perrysburg Schools on Wednesday said the Northwest Ohio Conservative Coalition used false information to go after the district’s levy — an accusation the group denies.

In late September, the coalition issued a news release and launched a website “advocating against” putting the school district’s operational levy on the Nov. 5 ballot, with its website and Facebook page displaying an item titled: “No New School Tax – School Levy Raises Property Taxes 34 percent,” according to the school district.

When reached on the phone Wednesday, John McAvoy, a board member for the coalition, confirmed that characterization “was perhaps confusing.”

The 34 percent increase referred to the increase of taxes earmarked for the public school district, if the millage is successful, while homeowners’ overall property tax would go up by about 24 percent, group members said.

“In order to clarify [it], we recalculated [the percentage] based on the entire property tax that a homeowner would pay. When we used that number, it comes up to 24 percent,” Mr. McAvoy said. “The original 34 percent was based only on the portion of the tax that goes to the schools, which evidently caused confusion.” 

Superintendent Thomas Hosler said in a prepared statement the group “apparently used school district tax information from Bloom Township, Wood County, Ohio in the Elmwood School District to calculate the percentage of increase to taxpayers in Perrysburg School District, which created an inflated and inaccurate number,” according to the statement.

Mr. Hosler said the correct number is 24.2 percent.

“School finance is complex — we handle questions regularly from taxpayers trying to calculate these numbers correctly,” Mr. Hosler said. “It makes no difference whether the facts were intentionally misrepresented or there is a misunderstanding as to how property taxes are calculated. We are a public entity; all anyone needs to do is pick up the phone or send a message and we would help step them through this calculation.”

The proposed levy is incremental — increasing over a five-year time span — and if approved by voters would begin at 7.9 mills and end at 14.2 mills. The levy is set to generate $7.5 million in its first year and will not increase more than $1.5 million annually, reaching a total of $13.5 million in the tax year 2023.

In the first year, the levy would cost the owner of a $200,000 home $46.08 per month, according to district officials. It would increase by $9.34 the second-year; another $9.33 the third year; the fourth year by $9.33; and the fifth year by $8.75.

“Representatives from Citizens for Perrysburg Schools, which is managing the advocacy campaign for this school levy, are looking into reporting this as a campaign violation for making false statements in campaign materials,” according to the schools' statement.

Said Mr. Hosler: “Our ultimate goal is to ensure all school district residents are given accurate information so they may make their own informed decision.”