LOW MOOR – Property owners in the Northeast Community School District last week voted down a measure that would have given the district’s school board the authority to possibly raise property taxes.
If the vote had passed, it would not have directly raised taxes, but instead given the board the authority to raise the school’s physical plant and equipment levy from the current 67 cents per $1,000 of valuation to any number up to $1.34.
However, after 335 ballots were cast, a decisive 77% of voters said no, according to unofficial voting stats posted on the county’s election site. A simple majority was needed for the measure to pass. The Clinton County Board of Supervisors canvassed the vote Monday, making it official.
“I was pleased with the turnout of voters, and it wasn’t close, and that says something,” said Northeast Superintendent Neil Gray. “We didn’t think it would crash and burn, but it did.”
Overall, 15.5% of the total registered voters living in the Northeast district cast a vote, according to statistics provided by the Clinton County Auditor’s Office.
For Gray and other school officials, it’s back to the drawing board.
The district’s PPEL levy expires June 30, 2023, and was approved by voters almost a decade ago. If voters do not approve a new levy cap by the time it expires, the district would lose the revenue stream altogether.
The PPEL is a funding source schools utilize to pay for operating costs, utilities, certain infrastructure improvements, new school buses and technology.
Gray said at its next meeting, the school board will discuss all possibilities and “figure out what kind of cuts we would be looking at” if the school’s PPEL levy is gone.
Caps are typically approved by voters in 10-year increments, and Superintendent Neil Gray said the district has yielded an average of $160,000 annually from the funding stream.
The next special election would be held in March, and the board can decide whether to ask for voters to approve the $1.34 cap or renew the 67-cent rate currently in place.
Such special elections cost the school around $4,000, according to Clinton County Auditor Eric Van Lancker.