Beachwood will pause collecting property taxes if school bond issue passes
Beachwood City Council this week voted to approve a temporary halt on collecting the city’s property taxes if a new bond issue is approved by voters next week for new Beachwood City Schools elementary school buildings.
City officials said in a news release the reprieve on the city’s 2.4-mill property tax, which will need to be re-approved each year over the next three years, shows how the city can work together with its school district.
Superintendent Robert Hardis said the reprieve will mean property owners won’t pay any additional property taxes over the next three years, as long as the City Council keeps approving it, but that's contingent on if a 3.95-mill bond issue passes on May 2, with the goal of building two new elementary schools.
"It's a win for all of our taxpayers," Hardis said. "It would be a win for the schools and the city in that we try to partner around economic development."
The bond issue is estimated to cost $138.25 per year for each $100,000 of a property's value.
Hardis said the school district’s seen a significant growth of enrollment in its elementary schools recently, up roughly 16% over the last seven years, which he attributed to families coming to Beachwood to live and work. He said that's likely due to jobs available in the area with major healthcare outfits nearby, as well as industry and universities.
"That's anecdotally what we we learn from the families who are here, is they are here because of career opportunities, often in health care and other kind of major Cleveland industries," he said. "And Beechwood has been an attractive place for them to to to call home."
The bond issue would generate revenue to pay for two new elementary school buildings next to the current Bryden and Hilltop elementary schools, as well as renovate the Fairmount Early Childhood Education Center. Hardis said Bryden and Hilltop in particular are almost 70 years old, with the exteriors of the building deteriorating and continued "patching" of problems not being cost-effective.
"The District has expanded programming for literacy and reading intervention, gifted and special education services, fine arts, technology, and world language instruction," the release reads. "The new buildings will also be equipped with enhanced accessibility and security, new technology and playgrounds, and more engaging and collaborative environments in which students can learn
Hardis said Beachwood voters support their schools and very seldom turn down levies or bond issues. One of the few exceptions was in 2018 when the district presented a bond issue to voters that would have consolidated the two elementary schools together on one campus in one new building, which failed by five votes, he said.
"The message we took away was that a significant portion of this community did not like the idea of consolidating into one large elementary," Hardis said, adding that a lot of time and community engagement went into a new facilities master plan that led to the current recommendation.
The city of Beachwood's property tax that would be paused if the bond issue passes is used to fund the city's general fund, which typically pays for salaries and departments like police and public works. The bulk of cities' funding in Ohio - as in Beachwood - often comes from the levying of income taxes, not property taxes.