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New or Additional Ohio School Levies Face an Uphill Battle


A new tax hurts a lot more than a tax you’re already paying—at least, that’s what Ohio voters seem to think.

In many parts of Ohio, the November 5, 2013 is all about levies to fund school districts, and passing new levies in “off” election years is an uphill battle.

Chad Packer, a Butler County school administrator who wrote his dissertation on Ohio school levies, says in some cases renewal levies are 90 times more likely to pass than additional levies that add extra millage to local property taxes. But the specific amount and purpose of the levy appears to be less significant in predicting whether it will pass.

“People aren’t concerned about what you’re gonna do with the money,” he said. “They’re just concerned about giving you any money at all.”

And in a year without a state or national election, these decisions are made by relatively small groups of people. 

“It’s skewed to the people at the, kind of the higher end of socio-economic status right now,” said Dan Birdsong of the University of Dayton. Older and wealthier people are more likely to show up to the polls in off-year elections. At least one recent school levy, in Brookville, came down to a precise tie on its first count, and levy issues in Centerville have been defeated by narrow margins consisting of just a few dozen people. 

There will be 194 school levies on ballots across Ohio November 5—72 are new or additional operating levies. In Montgomery County alone, six such levies will show up on local ballots. Last year, which was a national election year, voters rejected the majority of school levies in the Miami Valley.

See WYSO's full list of Miami Valley school levies on the ballot for November 5, 2013.

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