Friday, May 25, 2018
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Backers push as Genoa bond-issue drive enters final week

Genoa Area Local Schools supporters who want the district to build two new buildings with assistance from the Ohio School Facilities Commission, began the final stretch of their bond issue campaign this week.

Parents and other Genoa-area residents in favor of the bond issue hit the streets over the weekend, passing out pamphlets door-to-door.

Superintendent Dennis Mock said he is confident the issue will pass if the majority of the school district's parents vote Tuesday.

After conducting a school building assessment last year, the state facilities commission offered to pay 58 percent of the total cost to build new schools and renovate existing facilities, providing local voters approve funding for the remainder.

Issue 2 on Tuesday's ballot in this Ottawa County district is a combination of two requests: a 4.9-mill, $13.6 million bond issue that would run 28 years and a 0.5-mill, continuing maintenance levy that would generate about $81,000 per year, said Ottawa County Auditor Jo Ellen Regal.

The state facilities commission requires such levies for projects that it helps fund.

Combined, the two requests would cost the owner of a $100,000 home $165.37 per year for 28 years, Mrs. Regal said.

After that, the maintenance levy would continue to cost the owner of a $100,000 home $15.31 annually, she said.

Plans call for construction of a new high school and renovation of the existing high school auditorium and career-tech classrooms.

Its academic wing would be scheduled for either abandonment or demolition and an additional 71,460 square feet would be added to the building, covering land now used as a parking lot.

Also, a new kindergarten through fifth-grade elementary school would be built. It would be bigger than the two current elementaries combined, with three additional classrooms and a larger gym as well, Mr. Mock said.

Other planned upgrades include a new 1,600-seat gymnasium; new restrooms for the Comet stadium, and improved building security.

The Genoa Levy Committee notes that the state share of the project would be about $28 million including a credit of about $6.2 million the district would receive for constructing the John C. Roberts Middle School in 1999 with local funds.

That credit means taxpayers would pay 25.5 percent of the district's total project cost instead of 42 percent.

The superintendent said voters with children seem to support the ballot issue despite comments from at least one member of Genoa Village Council.

Darryl Bittner has said he opposes the issue because the school board voted Jan. 31 to build the proposed elementary school outside the village.

Village council members had passed a resolution 10 days earlier encouraging the school board to build at the Brunner Elementary site in the village. But their efforts failed to dissuade the board, which decided the public agreed with its decision, Mr. Mock said.

"I hope it fails," Councilman Darryl Bittner said of the issue.

"I don't want them moving [the school] out of town, pure and simple. I will not support the levy. A lot of Genoa people feel the same way I do."

The board plans to build the yet-to-be named elementary on Genoa-Clay Center Road in Clay Township, where the district's high school, middle school, and administrative building are located.

The board last month conducted an Internet and phone survey, asking where voters would like the proposed elementary.

Mr. Mock said 75 percent favored the Genoa-Clay Center Road site while 25 percent wanted the Brunner site.

"The public forums we've had, the input we've had from our levy committees, off-the-cuff discussions at our basketball games, the discussions have been this location [Clay Center Road] is the center of the school district and it's where the school should be built," Mr. Mock said.

Village officials said, however, that moving Genoa's remaining school out of the district would hurt not only the village's pride, but its pockets as well.

Genoa Fiscal Officer Charles Brinkman said the local school district is one of the largest employers in the village and if Brunner Elementary closes, the village would lose income tax revenue from those teachers and other employees to Clay Township.

"I would say the loss of revenue is going to be somewhere between 2 and 5 percent on the income tax fund," he said.

The village generates about $750,000 from income tax and Mr. Nye and Mr. Mock acknowledged Genoa would lose about $15,000 annually under the plan.

Mr. Brinkman said that figure could be as high as $31,000. That would account for 4 percent of the village's income tax - an amount Mr. Brinkman called "pretty significant."

He acknowledged the lost income tax revenue could be more than made up if the Brunner building would be sold to someone bringing new business into the village.

"I don't think the community will see an immediate reaction with stopping of any programs or services," he said. "I just think it will be more difficult to provide the services that we do at the reasonable cost that we do... Between now and then, something else could happen that could offset it."

Ernest Cottrell, Jr., school board president, said he doesn't think the loss of tax revenue is a reason to vote against the levy and that the proposed new schools still would be a part of the Genoa community, which includes Allen and Clay townships.

If the loss of tax revenue turns off voters on Tuesday then the school board "will have to reassess things," he said.

"I guess it makes the most sense for the school district to put it on the Genoa-Clay Center campus, which does have a Genoa address," he added.

Mr. Mock said the board purchased the Clay Center Road site in 2003 with the intent that all the district's schools eventually would be on the same campus.

Allen Central was built in 1942, Brunner in 1962, and Genoa High School in 1963.

"It would cost a little over $8 million just to replace Allen Central," the superintendent said. "We're asking the community for a little more than $9 million to replace Allen and Brunner and build a new high school as well."

If the issue passes, construction would begin in 2009.

The building's doors could open in the spring semester of 2010-2011 at the earliest, but it is more likely to open in the fall semester of 2011-2012, Mr. Mock said.

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