Tuesday, April 30, 2002

Wyoming says school levy a necessity

By Sue Kiesewetter
Enquirer Contributor

        WYOMING — Falling revenues from the state and the school district's income tax mean that passing an operating levy next week is more important than ever, school officials say.

        The 9.5-mill levy will help offset a $1.2 million deficit projected by June 2003. It would raise about $2 million annually.

        “The economy flattening out and restrictions by the state created a crisis situation in a real hurry for us,” said Helen Patch, president of the Wyoming Board of Education. “Nobody wants to pay more taxes, but I believe the people in Wyoming value the education we provide here.”

        The levy would increase taxes $586 annually on a house with a market value of $200,000.

        Collections from the district's income tax remained at $4.912 million in 1999 and 2000 but dropped slightly to $4.811 million in 2001, said James Moorman, schools treasurer. That drop, combined with a $700,000 decline in state aid because of a change in the funding formula, come at a time when the district is experiencing a slow but steady enrollment increase, said Mary Killen, the district's public information officer.

        This year's enrollment of 1,950 pupils is up about 25 from last year and 350 from 1993, Ms. Killen said.

        The board has approved more than $700,000 in cuts that will take effect July 1 and remain in place through the 2002-03 school year even if the levy is approved, Mr. Moorman said. Another $400,000 in cuts will be announced next month if the levy is defeated.

        Several positions are being eliminated and textbook and technology purchases have been postponed until the 2003-04 school year. The district will stop leasing a maintenance garage and has reduced each school's budget by 10 percent. Fewer materials and supplies are being purchased and no improvements will be made this year to athletic fields.

        Educators said they have seen no organized opposition to the levy yet.


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