Tuesday, Apr 24, 2018
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11 school systems seek voters' OK


Passage of a 7.1-mill bond issue in the Gorham Fayeete district would replace this building in Fayette and the district's Franklin Elementary School in the community of Zone.

Diane Hires / Blade Enlarge

Voters in 11 northwest Ohio school districts will decide Tuesday on tax issues that would fund academic and extracurricular programs and pay for building improvements.

Of the school systems on the special election ballot, more than half were rebuffed by voters in the May election.

"The tendency is that people don't want to pay more taxes. It's just very simple," said Fred Schnoor, superintendent of the Benton-Carroll-Salem Local School District. The Ottawa County district, home to the Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station, is back on the ballot with a five-year, 5.3-mill emergency operating levy that voters rejected recently.

The levy would cost the owner of a $100,000 home $167 a year and raise $1.5 million annually. One mill is equal to $1 for every $1,000 in assessed property value.

Mr. Schnoor said that amount is needed to replace money the district is losing because of a change in how the state distributes personal property tax receipts from nuclear power plants.

In the Clyde-Green Springs Exempted Village Schools in Sandusky and Seneca counties, voters are being asked to reconsider a five-year, 5.9-mill emergency operating levy that they turned down in May. Superintendent Todd Helms said the tax's $1.3 million in annual revenue would help make up for losses the district expects from the state's planned phaseout of tangible personal property taxes.

"The change they made in state law is going to affect us," he said, noting that the district will lose revenue from Whirlpool Corp., its biggest taxpayer.

The levy would cost the owner of a $100,000 home $181 a year. Mr. Helms said the district is reminding voters that no new taxes have been levied for the Clyde-Green Springs schools since the early 1990s.

In Wood County, only the Eastwood Local School District is on the ballot, with a five-year, 4.8-mill emergency operating levy. The issue would raise $878,000 a year and cost a $100,000 homeowner $168 annually. An identical levy failed in May by 38 votes.

Superintendent Bill McFarland said the district needs to pass a levy this year to prevent a projected budget deficit that will start at $2.4 million for fiscal 2007 because of dwindling carryover balances.

Also trying again with levies that lost in May are three Hancock County districts. They include Van Buren Local Schools, where a three-year, 5.5-mill operating levy was defeated in the last election by one vote.

The tax would generate $1,275,000 a year and cost the owner of a $100,000 home $168 a year.

Vanlue Local Schools, southeast of Findlay, has a four-year, 6.5-mill operating levy on the ballot. The measure would raise $175,000 a year for the district and cost the owner of a $100,000 home $199 a year.

Also in Hancock County, Arcadia Local Schools is on the ballot trying to replace a five-year, 1.5-mill permanent improvement levy that was defeated in May.

Two districts west of Toledo are asking voters for funds to build and maintain new schools.

If voters in the Gorham Fayette Local Schools approve a 7.1-mill, 28-year bond issue, a building would be constructed to replace two schools in the Fulton County district.

The school would replace the Fayette School, which houses grades five through 12, as well as the district's Franklin Elementary School, which serves students in kindergarten through fourth grade in the community of Zone. School officials have an option on a 60-acre site south of Fayette for the building.

The district has been considering moving out of the Fayette building because of concerns about contamination from an old auto parts plant near the school. The school board is suing the company responsible for the factory site near the Fayette building, contending that the former Fayette Tubular Products Inc. factory poses long-term health risks to the school.

The bond issue would raise $4.9 million for the $16.8 million construction project, said Dave Hankins, Gorham Fayette superintendent. The Ohio School Facilities Commission would pay the rest of the costs under its extreme environmental contamination program.

Voters also are being asked to approve a 0.5-mill, continuing maintenance levy. The bond issue would cost the owner of an $80,000 owner-occupied home $178 a year, and the levy would cost that same owner about $15 a year.

In the Millcreek-West Unity Local School District, voters are being asked again to pass a 28-year, 7.6-mill bond issue and a 23-year, 0.5-mill maintenance levy. The same combined tax request was defeated by 170 votes in May.

The bond issue would raise $7 million toward construction of a $21 million school to replace a prekindergarten through 12th-grade building that dates to the 1920s. The Ohio School Facilities Commission would pay the remaining $14 million in construction costs.

The proposed taxes would add $248 a year to the tax bills of the owner of a $100,000 home.

In Allen County, Lima City Schools has a five-year, 6.8-mill emergency levy on the ballot that would raise $2.2 million a year. The levy would replace an existing tax that expires at the end of the year, costing the owner of a $100,000 home $208 a year, up from $132 now.

Also on the ballot are two districts seeking operating tax renewals.

In the Monroeville Local School District in Erie and Huron counties, voters are being asked to retain a five-year, 7-mill operating levy that generates $396,000 a year. The tax costs the owner of a $100,000 home $143.02 a year.

The Seneca East Local School District is requesting renewal of a five-year, 1 percent income tax that raises about $750,000 a year for the Attica-based district.

Blade staff writers Jennifer Feehan, Erika Ray, Janet Romaker, and Jane Schmucker contributed to this report.

Contact Steve Murphy at: smurphy@theblade.com or 419-724-6078.

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