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Norwalk school district moves forward with '5 for 5' levy

Cary Ashby • Jan 22, 2014 at 11:48 PM

Norwalk City Schools has voted it's necessary to put an emergency operating levy that will generate $1.5 million on the May ballot.

"This is a resolution of necessity. This is the first step," Superintendent Dennis Doughty said. "Literally, this reflects an emergency situation and I think our finances reflect that."

The school board is expected to complete the two-step process at 7 p.m. next Tuesday.

Presented to the board at Tuesday's special meeting were two other levy options, which would generate $1.8 million (about 6 mills) and $2 million (6 1/2 mills). Each of the levies would last for five years.

Board member Rob Ludwig made a motion to support the 5-mill levy that would generate $1.5 million over five years, but there several, long, awkward moments before someone seconded the motion. Board president John Lendrum finally said he was going to do so at least "for the purpose of discussion." The motion passed 5-0.

Each of the members discussed the $1.5 million levy, what Doughty has called the "5 for 5 levy," before the motion and vote.

"I don't look at it as a Band-Aid (solution); I see it as the start of a long-term solution," Ludwig said.

About the three options, he said, "I think what will pass is the biggest question." Ludwig doubted a levy that generated anything more than $1.5 million over five years would be successful.

Board member Ralph Ritzenthaler agreed, saying any levy Norwalk puts on the ballot has to be something that makes the taxpayers "comfortable."

Kevin Cashen, the newest addition to the board, said what he likes about the so-called "5 for 5 levy" is it would force the district to be fiscally responsible and give the public a chance to have its say in five years.

"Also, it gives the state (time) to come up with new funding. It's time for the state to give (districts money)," he said. "(This levy) gives it a chance for that to occur if it occurs."

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