Whitko preps for referendum discussion

     Whether a full house, barely-occupied seats or somewhere in between, Whitko Community Schools administration and board members are ready for whatever comes their way Tuesday night for an in-depth look an upcoming referendum for a tax levy increase in the district.
     At 6:30 p.m. in the auditorium of Whitko High School, superintendent Steve Clason, financial operations director Tom McFarland and board of school trustees members will make their case for why voters need to approve the tax levy increase.
     They will focus on past cuts, more cuts that could come in the future and the effect they will have on school learning and programs.
     At issue is whether voters will approve a request for a tax levy increase for the district that could be imposed at any time for the next seven years.
     Clason said recently that the district has a balanced budget for the coming school year, and with the help of federal stimulus dollars should not need to seek a tax levy increase for at least a year.
     After that, the future becomes less murky and less bright, which is why the referendum will allow seven years for a tax increase to be put in place.
     If the referendum passes, Whitko could increase the tax rate up to 20 cents for each $100 of assessed valuation for property.
     If the referendum passes and the tax levy increases, Whitko can only use the new money for general fund expenses and will serve as a “safety net” if other public funding falls short, according to district officials.
     Child care will be provided at the discussion.