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School bonds are likely candidates for this years ballot

The Ashland School District is still talking about floating a second education tax initiative in the November election.

The school district budget committee will discuss a local option levy in 2006 that would bring revenue into the general fund during a meeting with the school board on Thursday evening. The levy would also include a renewal of the Ashland Youth Activities Levy.

The November election appeals to local agencies seeking additional funding sources because even-numbered years do not require a 50-percent voter turnout to pass tax measures.

&

So that means it&

s next fall or a double-majority,&

said Rick Barth, the chair of the budget committee.

Running the measure in 2008 is a possibility, but the youth levy expires that year and &

we&

ve never had a backup plan,&

school board member Amy Amrhein said.

A bond for maintenance and improvement of district facilities that voters will consider in November has been in the works for several months. The district relies on the facilities bond to maintain aging school buildings, some of which still have original electrical, heating and plumbing systems.

Barth doesn&

t think the two would compete and the budget committee discussed melding the two tax measures into one campaign.

The local option levy would be tacked onto property taxes and support district operations, including staff salaries and benefits that account for 85 percent of expenditures for the 2005-06 school year. State funding, which is allocated on a per-student basis, and local property tax revenues support the school district, along with a smaller amount of federal and other funding.

State revenues are expected to continually fall because of declining district enrollment, while the youth activities levy funding should increase with property values in the city. However, those monies and federal funding have constraints on how the district can use them and most can&

t be applied to day-to-day operations like state revenue can.

&

There are a lot of restricted funds,&

Barth said.

The budget committee will continue reviewing how the district will sustain itself in the future. A decision on the general fund bond is expected by early spring.