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Solon Schools Anxiously Awaits State Budget Talks

The phase-out of tangible personal property tax revenue remains a key issue for Solon Schools' financial health.

It's almost state budget time, and Solon Schools officials say they will stay vigilant to make sure the school district's finances are protected.

Key to Solon is it's tangible personal property tax revenue, which is abut $8.2 million annually and makes up about 14 percent of the district's annual operating budget, said Treasurer Tim Pickana.

That tax re-imbursement is being phased out. The district lost $1.2 million in TPP re-imbursement money in 2011, and an additional $1.2 million this year. Those losses are expected to continue into the future.

"We need to be ready and prepared for what may be headed our way, in terms of state funding and TPP," Pickana said. "We cannot lose those dollars."

Gov. John Kasich is expected to submit his budget proposal in February, then that will be used as the starting point for the two-year budget bill that will be worked out by Ohio's General Assembly. The existing budget expires at the end of June.

Pickana, who heads the Coalition for Fiscal Fairness in Ohio, said the group is preparing for what's ahead.

Solon does have some advantages. For starters, Pickana said our local representatives in Columbus, Rep. Marlene Anielski and Sen. Tom Patton, are on board and supportive of Solon.

"Our local legislators have shown unbelieveable support," Pickana said.

And Solon's supportive community is also a key advantage. In 2011, the community lobbied legislators en masse when the state budget plan threatened to undermine the school district's financial health. Those lobbying efforts resulted in a revised budget that was more favorable to Solon.

Communicating developments to residents will be key, so that they can organize whatever sort of campaign is needed to help the district, school board members said.

"When the word comes out, everybody will know," said Board President Margo Morrow. "We are not shy."

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