Frequently Asked Questions about the Lake County School Financing District
Q: What is a county school financing district?
A: A county school financing district is a group of independent local school districts that agree to pool their valuation and request a levy to support specified educational programs across the entire group of districts.
Q: Which districts participate in the Lake County School Financing District?
A:The Lake County School Financing District consists of Madison, Painesville City, Perry, and Riverside local school districts. The ESC of the Western Reserve (formerly known as the Lake County Educational Service Center) is the taxing authority, which collects the tax proceeds and distributes them to each of the four school districts based on an agreed upon formula.
Q: How do member districts use the money from the Lake County School Financing District levy?
A: Funds are used for the provision of necessary personnel, materials, supplies and transportation for instruction in language arts, social studies, mathematics, fine and practical arts, health and physical education, science and business education.
Q: Is this levy a renewal?
A: Yes, the Lake County School Financing District levy was first approved by voters in 1990 and renewed in 1995, 2000, 2005, 2010, and 2015.
Q: As a homeowner, will this renewal increase my tax rate?
A: No, the levy was first approved at 4.9 mills and is currently collecting at 2.28 mills.
Q: Is this renewal levy permanent (continuous)?
A: No, the renewal is for a 5-year period.
Q: Does the levy renewal have to pass in each member district?
A: No. The renewal must pass in the entire Financing District as a whole.
Q: How Is the money from the levy distributed?
A: The member districts currently receive the majority of their share based on a proportionate share of each district's total enrollment. If the levy is renewed, the proceeds will be distributed based on each member district’s proportionate share of tax valuation.
Q: How does the Lake County School Financing District levy benefit Riverside Local Schools?
A: Riverside Local Schools receives more than $2 million each year from the levy which is used for instructional expenses related to English, Math, Science and Social Studies at the Riverside Campus. If the levy is renewed, Riverside Local Schools will receive additional revenue from the levy without an increase in taxes based on a new agreed upon levy distribution.
Q: What happens if the levy is not renewed?
A: The district would no longer receive any proceeds from this levy after 2020 and would result in budget cuts in excess of $2 million dollars per year starting in 2021. This would have a detrimental impact to the educational programs offered at Riverside.
Q. Does this levy qualify for the “rollbacks” from the State of Ohio?
A: Yes. Since this is a renewal levy that originated before 2013, the levy qualifies for the rollbacks from the State of Ohio. This includes the 10% non-business credit and 2.5% owner occupied credit. If this was a new levy or replacement levy at the same millage rate, it would no longer qualify for the rollbacks and would cost a homeowner 12.5% more than the current proposed renewal.
Q: How are the levy proceeds accounted for to ensure they are used for the specified purpose?
A: Each member district accounts for the levy proceeds in a separate fund to ensure the proceeds are used appropriately. Riverside includes this fund in its five year forecast, which if filed twice annually with the Ohio Department of Education, as the levy proceeds are a critical part of Riverside’s operations.
Q: Why doesn’t Riverside leave the financing district and place its own levy on the ballot?
A: There are several reasons why Riverside continues to participate in the financing district. First, the current effective millage rate for residential taxpayers is 2.28 mills. The effective millage for commercial taxpayers and public utility taxpayers is 4.83 mills and 4.90 mills respectively. If Riverside placed its own levy on the ballot, all three classes of taxpayers would be set at the same millage rate. Therefore, this would shift the tax burden from commercial and public utility taxpayers to the residential taxpayers. Second, a new levy would no longer qualify for the state rollbacks and would cost a homeowner 12.5% more than the current renewal levy if it were at the same effective millage rate.
Q. What happens if the value of the Perry Nuclear Power Plant is lowered or the plant closes?
A: If the levy is renewed, the proceeds will be distributed based on each member district’s proportionate share of tax valuation going forward. Therefore, Riverside would be protected and not see any loss of revenue from a devaluation or closure of the power plant.
Q. What percentage of the levy proceeds generated by Riverside taxpayers is distributed to Riverside Schools?
A: For most of the 30 years of the levy’s existence, Riverside received more than 100% of the revenue that its taxpayers have generated. However, this has changed in recent years due to the aggressive phase out of tangible personal property tax reimbursements from the State of Ohio. Therefore, the member districts agreed to change the distribution formula with the renewal so each member district retains 100% of the revenue that its taxpayers generate.