Worthington Schools bond issue, PI levy, incremental levy headed to November ballot

The Worthington Board of Education voted unanimously June 27 to proceed with a combined $234 million bond levy and 1.9-mill continuing permanent-improvements levy in the November general election.

If approved by voters, it would fund facility improvements to both district high schools and vehicle replacements, technology updates, grounds upkeep and deferred maintenance.

Election logo
Election logo

The combined bond issue and PI levy would amount to an additional cost of $101.50 annually per $100,000 of appraised property value.

The board also unanimously approved an incremental operating levy starting with an additional 2.9 mills in 2023 – or an additional $101.50 annually per $100,000 of appraised property value – followed by three 2.0-mill increments in the next three years – or an additional $70 per $100,000 of appraised property value each year from 2024 to 2026.

The incremental operating levy would fund district operating expenses, with collections phased in so the district could collect funding when it needs it.

The board's vote was the final decision needed to get the bond issue, PI levy and incremental levy on the Nov. 8 ballot, according to board member Jennifer Best. It gives district treasurer TJ Cusick the green light to file the necessary paperwork with the Franklin County Board of Elections by the deadline of 4 p.m. Aug. 10.

“Now the treasurer can organize all the paperwork and get everything filed and ready to go,” she said.

Cusick said the bond issue and PI levy would be presented as one measure and the incremental levy would be another.

This bond issue would fund improvements at Thomas Worthington and Worthington Kilbourne high schools, following improvements to the middle schools conducted through phase 1 of the district’s master facilities plan that were completed last summer.

If the bond issue is approved, both schools would receive new facilities and amenities, as well as upgrades to essential underlying building systems, such as HVAC and roofing.

Although taxpayers would take on more debt by approving a bond issue this fall, a large percentage of that would be offset by $47.5 million in debt that’s scheduled to come off the books between now and 2027, as well as a tax rate that’s scheduled to decrease by approximately 3.6 mills – or $126 per $100,000 of property value.

Currently, the district has $113.8 million in outstanding debt at a bond rate of 5.6 mills.

Also, although the bond issue is listed on the Franklin County Board of Elections website as 4.56 mills, the district anticipates that will collect only 1.0 mill, according to information from the Franklin County Auditor's Office.

The PI levy would fund repairs and technology updates at all other buildings, as well as bus and vehicle replacements and upkeep of district grounds, including athletics fields.

PI levy funds may not be used for salaries or benefits for staff, general supplies or other items that do not have an estimated life of five years or more.

Superintendent Trent Bowers addressed the need for additional operating funds in his April "It's Worth It" column.

"First, Worthington Schools will see little impact to the amount of state funding it receives as the result of the new state funding formula, approved as part of the Ohio General Assembly’s latest two-year budget bill," he said. "Second, our revenue is expected to flatten this year when the last installment of the levy that was approved in 2018 is realized.



This article originally appeared on ThisWeek: Worthington Schools bond issue, pair of levies headed to fall ballot