Published: Wednesday, October 11, 2017 @ 7:00 AM
Updated: Wednesday, October 11, 2017 @ 2:53 PM
By: Lawrence Budd - Staff Writer
SPRINGBORO — The Springboro schools’ substitute levy campaign established a committee with the local elections board on Tuesday, about two months after supporters began work to promote passage of a continuing substitute 7.4-mill levy.
The levy, Issue 18 on the Nov. 7 ballot, is expected to raise more than $7.9 million for Springboro school district expenses, if approved.
Before accepting or spending money promoting an issue or candidate, a campaign committee needs to be set up and a treasurer designated with the county election board, according to Brian Sleeth, director of the Warren County Board of Elections.
District Treasurer Terrah Floyd said other steps had been taken by campaign committee volunteers to establish the committee before it was formed late Tuesday at the local election office.
Sleeth said Wednesday the group filed paperwork with the Ohio Secretary of State’s office.
“They went to the wrong office and did the wrong form,” Sleeth said. “They set themselves up as a business.”
The committee has made no expenditures, but has had some donations, Sleeth said.
The committee is in compliance now because they filed the proper forms with the county office Tuesday, Sleeth said.
A group can establish a campaign committee through the Secretary of State’s office on state issues, but must set up the committee with the county election board on local issues, according to Sleeth.
The committee’s records will be reviewed after filing campaign finance reports following the election, a legal requirement for campaign committees. If there appears to be any violations, the case will be turned over to the Ohio Elections Commission, Sleeth said.
“We’ve never had this happen before,” Sleeth said.
Floyd and Superintendent Dan Schroer formed the committee in August with more than 40 people from the community.
“They had to start over from scratch,” Floyd said of supporters, noting she and Schroer were limited in their levy involvement during work hours. “Nobody else knew to tell them what to do.”
The committee took the place of Neighbors for Springboro Schools, the committee through which recent levy campaigns have accepted contributions and spent money promoting issues.
Neighbors for Springboro Schools initially committed $1,600 to the substitute levy campaign.
“There needs be something substantial for them to start with,” board member Lisa Babb said during a Sept. 28 school board meeting.
Babb was responding to questions about the status of the campaign and why Neighbors for Springboro Schools (NFSS) had held onto more than $7,000.
Babb and resident Tiffany Carlisle then indicated NFSS decided to hold onto some of the money still in its treasury from past campaigns for future levies seeking new operating money for the district.
Voters here have rejected five consecutive levies for new money, but approved a renewal with a reduced levy in 2013.
Substitute levies are still relatively uncommon.
School officials in districts like Springboro and Beavercreek trying to find a way to keep up with growing student populations and the costs of providing a public education are turning more to this option, added in Ohio in 2008.
People already paying property taxes on emergency levies like the one that would be replaced by the substitute levy shouldn’t see their bills go up after passage of the substitute measure.
Unlike other levies, substitutes enable districts to collect full taxes on residential and commercial properties improved after passage, unless they are exempted through tax abatements or other incentives.
Districts can actually reduce the millage levied, once the continuing substitute levy has been approved and money from new development can be counted.
Last week, Carlisle said NFSS “stands ready to assist the new campaign with any funding they request, whether it be for signs, mailings, or other campaign materials for community events.”
On Tuesday, Carlisle said, “We are currently working on finding out how to legally transfer PAC funds and plan to transfer all NFSS funds to the new campaign as soon as we can.”