After delaying an operating levy request for the past two years, the Upper Arlington Board of Education is returning to voters on the November 8, 2022, ballot with a 6.9-mill operating levy request to provide funding to maintain the district’s high-quality educational program.
“Amid the difficulties that families and residents have faced over the past two years, our school district has been good stewards to our community by creatively stretching our financial resources so that we did not have to return to voters until this fall,” said Board of Education President Lori Trent.
The role of the school district in an operating levy request is to provide factual information so that community members may make an informed decision on November 8. Below is a sampling of the frequently asked questions available at www.uaschools.org/LevyFAQ.aspx. The district will be adding to the questions and answers as it hears from community members this fall. If you have questions, please contact [email protected].
What would the operating levy fund?
The 6.9-mill request would provide operating funding needed for the district to maintain the current level of high-quality academic programming for Upper Arlington's growing student population. Because of the way school funding is structured in the state of Ohio, operating levies are the primary way that suburban school districts similar to Upper Arlington deal with rising costs due to inflation.
What would the new operating levy cost homeowners?
For an Upper Arlington homeowner, the proposed 6.9-mill operating levy would add approximately $241.50 a year in property taxes per $100,000 of appraised home value as determined by the Franklin County auditor. For an Upper Arlington home with a county auditor’s appraised home value of $400,000, that would amount to an additional $966 per year based on calendar year 2022 tax valuations.
It’s important to note that appraised home valuation isn’t what your home would sell for — it’s an amount determined by the county auditor and available on your property listing on the auditor’s website.
How long has it been since the last levy?
Upper Arlington voters approved a 3.75 mill operating levy in November 2017, which was meant to maintain the current educational programming at the time. Also in November 2017, voters approved a bond issue that funded the first phase of the facilities master plan.
Why do suburban school districts like Upper Arlington keep asking for operating levies?
In Upper Arlington, approximately 96 percent of district revenues are fixed, with little or no room for growth. A major factor in this is House Bill 920, a state law passed in the 1970s.
HB 920 ensures that voted operating levies do not grow as property values increase. As property values increase, the millage collected for each voted operating levy is reduced to ensure the district’s funding from the operating levy remains flat. In short, as a homeowner’s property value increases, their school operating tax rate actually decreases.
A major factor in the impact of HB 920 is inflation. Every three years, the value of taxable property in a school district is determined by the county auditor. If inflation has caused the value of the property to increase, the auditor reduces the school tax rate so schools do not receive more money. So, as inflation drives up the value of property, HB 920 prevents schools from collecting more money. However, that also leaves districts unable to meet the increases in school costs caused by inflation and enrollment growth.
Generally speaking, the only way school districts see an increase in property tax revenue is when voters approve a new operating levy. That contributes to the need for suburban school districts like Upper Arlington to return to voters every three years to keep up with the cost of doing business.