Editor’s note: In preparation for the Aug. 2 special election on which the Sidney City Schools has placed a permanent improvement levy, the Sidney Daily News will publish a weekly question dealing with the levy and what it means to the district. The questions and answers have been provided by the PI levy committee.
SIDNEY — On Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2016, Sidney City Schools will be asking voters to approve a 3.0 mill permanent improvement (PI) levy for 5 years to maintain current facilities and equipment.
In the not-so-distant past, Sidney City Schools weathered some very unstable financial times. In an effort to put the district on a path to improved fiscal health, difficult decisions were made, including staff reductions, pay reductions and freezes, benefits reductions, and tightening of discretionary spending. As a result of these efforts, as well as recent changes in state funding that have been favorable for Sidney City Schools, the district has been able to turn the finances around and build a comfortable carry over balance; however, we must not get too comfortable. Annual operating expenses cannot be contained at the current levels forever; it would be irresponsible to think so. Plus, the reliability of state funding is only as secure as the current 2-year state budget. Each new state budget brings the uncertainty of a new funding formula and its impact on the district’s revenue.
Furthermore, since the expiration of the original PI Levy in 2009, Sidney City Schools has been subsidizing the permanent improvement fund with general fund dollars. The funding requirements to maintain the district’s infrastructure, technology, transportation, etc. are more than the general fund can sustain. In an effort to responsibly manage the district’s operating expenditures and preserve the General Fund carryover balance without asking for district residents to pass an operating levy, the passage of a PI levy, which restricts the funds to capital expenditures only, is necessary. While a portion of funding from the general fund does support capital expenditures, the funding required for maintaining the district’s permanent improvement needs out paces what the general fund can provide.
More information and answers to other questions about the PI levy can be found on Citizens for Sidney Schools website at www.sidneyschoolslevy.org.