SUGARCREEK TOWNSHIP, Ohio (WDTN) – As the debate continues over a proposed school levy, officials not affiliated with either side answered voters’ questions at a town hall forum.
The meeting comes not long after community members spoke at a school board meeting about the levy, which is appearing on the May ballot next week for voters within the Bellbrook-Sugarcreek school district.
Kevin Price, a parent in Sugarcreek Township, told 2 NEWS he organized the event so voters could get their questions about the levy answered by impartial officials.
The proposed levy is a 7.5-mill permanent, replacement levy. The levy would generate an additional $3 million annually compared to the current levy, which was passed in 1981, according to school officials.
The levy would cost an extra $211 per year for the owner of a $100,000 home, according to the school district. The last time a school levy was passed in the district was in 2015.
David Graham, Greene County auditor, and State Rep. Rick Perales (R-Beavercreek) attended the Monday night event and answered questions. Members of the Dayton Mediation Center were also on hand to facilitate the discussion.
People on both sides also shared their opinions on the levy. Many of them agreed that they want to see the laws change so the state kicks in more funding for local school districts.
Those for the levy have said they want to ensure students continue to receive a quality education. Those against the levy have argued property taxes are already too high.
Price said while he plans to vote against the levy, he is not affiliated with the “vote no” campaign. He wanted to provide a space for thoughtful discussion and for voters to have questions answered by those not involved in the issue, he said.
“Public, civil, respectful discourse, which has been lacking to date,” Price said. “So I want to facilitate that we break down those barriers, that we can have a public meeting, ask questions of our elected officials and receive answers.”
Graham, who said he is not taking sides in the debate, told 2 NEWS he wanted to clear up some misinformation being shared.
“When people talk about there’s a 300 percent increase in the taxes, and while that is a partially true statement on this particular levy, it is about 300 percent, but this levy only represents one of many levies that the school district has,” the auditor said.
Price told 2 NEWS he invited the school administration and board to attend Monday’s meeting, but that invitation was declined.
Doug Cozad, superintendent of Bellbrook-Sugarcreek Local Schools, posted a video on social media Monday, slamming the meeting and calling it a “no-levy rally.”