Treasurer wants to clear up confusion about reappraisals, tax impact

by Judy Stringer

Aug. 14 board of education meeting

Hudson City School District Treasurer Phil Butto said he has fielded numerous questions regarding how the property value reappraisals – recently mailed by the Summit County Fiscal Office – will impact local taxes.  

The school board voted last month to ask Nov. 7 voters for an additional 5.5 mills, starting in January 2024. Annually, the levy would bring in $7.2 million to the district and cost property owners $193 for each $100,000 of their property’s appraised worth.

Butto shared three examples of questions, and his answers, to clear up some of the confusion caused by the reappraisal letters. The first asked which value – the “old” or “new”– would be the basis for the November levy. Butto explained if the levy passes in November, the old, or “2022,” values will be used.

“It’s really important that our community knows that those new, higher values will not be used to calculate this levy,” he said.

The second question involved whether tax bills overall will rise proportionally to the value increases. 

“The answer to that question is ‘no,’” Butto said. “Just because your values went up by 35% does not mean your taxes are going to go up by 35%. … [The school district is] not allowed to collect more money based on those increased values.”

The final example question was why a new levy is needed when one was recently passed. Butto explained that a Permanent Improvement Fund levy was renewed in 2022. Also, he said, a bond levy was passed in 2017 for the construction of a new middle school and a host of districtwide facility improvements. Neither of those funding sources can be used for operational expenses, such as salaries, benefits and supplies.

“This levy, in particular, is the first levy put out to voters in 12 years that is for operating purposes,” according to Butto. 

As part of its legislative agenda, the school board approved the addition of a new supplemental position, a makers space advisor at the middle school, and increased student fees for those who take the PSAT and PreACT tests due to increased fees from test providers. According to a memo, fees for the PSAT went from $16 to $18 and the PreACT increased from $13 to $18.

Strategic plan

Board members also heard five high-level goals coming out of a months-long strategic planning process. Superintendent Dana Addis said administrators kicked off the process to create a five-year strategic plan in January and have since held a dozen stakeholder focus groups, conducted a community-wide survey and facilitated numerous internal planning workshops.

The goals presented to the board related to learning enrichment, positive relationship development, staff recruitment, community engagement and operational excellence. Assistant Superintendent Doreen Osmun said administrators would return to the board in the coming months with specific action plans for each area, although she and others cited a few ideas in the works.

Osmun said, for example, under the new plan, students will engage in at least one project-based learning experience per year. Also known as PBL, this type of learning involves hands-on exploration and problem solving. One good example, she said, is the McDowell Sensory Garden, created with the help of preschoolers. Osmun also said students will make digital learning portfolios and announced plans to launch a database for staff to list their passions that can then be shared among classrooms and used to “cross pollinate” learning experiences across the district.

“We have members of our staff that are into woodworking or something like knitting, repairing cars, gardening, etc.,” she said.

Other action items include a new website and determining how parents and community members want to receive communications from the schools. Business Manager Tom Barone said the district may also research the use of solar panels, electric buses and rooftop gardens to optimize energy efficiency. ∞