Frontier finances muddied by proposals

NEW MATAMORAS –The Frontier Local School District is surrounded by the Wayne National Forest, making its territory beautiful but its basis for revenue restricted.

“Forty percent of our land is national forest, which means we get no taxes from it,” district treasurer Lee Howard said.

Howard informed the Frontier board of education at its regular meeting Monday night that the small revenue the district gets from the forest — a payment in lieu of taxes — could be affected under a proposed piece of federal legislation. She was uncertain how the bill will impact the eastern Washington County district.

House Bill 3846, sponsored by Rep. Bill Johnson, R-Marietta, of the 6th District, which includes Frontier, amends the law governing payment for oil and gas royalties on federal lands by specifying that counties must receive 20 percent of the amounts paid to states. The impact is difficult to determine because Johnson’s bill also reduces the amount paid into the reclamation fund from 40 percent to 20 percent. The county also receives payments from the state based on acreage of national forest land within the county, and those funds are distributed to support road maintenance and other public services, including schools.

Information provided by Howard showed that Frontier received $104,781 in fiscal year 2017 for payment in lieu of taxes, and to date in FY 2018 receipts are $140,137.05.

The board Monday night also received an update on repairs needed for the high school stadium bleachers, which have become unusable after years of water damage on the flood-prone field. Estimates ranged from $38,100 to repair the existing structure to $200,000 for a 620-seat new set of bleachers and pressbox.

“The question is, do we go smaller in size?” superintendent Brian Rentsch said during a slide presentation on the proposals. “We have 739 seats, but do we need that many? Can we get away with 495?”

The proposal from DWA, a local construction firm, would build an entirely new structure of 495 seats with a large pressbox for $155,101. The figure included a rough estimate of $20,000 for concrete foundation work, which was not provided by DWA.

After questions from the board, Rentsch said he would request another estimate that included a smaller pressbox and also inquire whether the contractor would engage a third party to do the concrete foundation work and provide a more exact estimate for it.

“We have 19 weeks,” a football fan in the gallery remarked. Rentsch said the work could be done in two stages, from 4-6 weeks each.

The board also put its support behind a resolution opposing Ohio Senate Bill 512, which proposes to consolidate the departments of public education, higher education and workforce development into a single agency.

“There is a large push for schools to support not making this happen,” Rentsch said.

In other business, the board:

¯ Approved selling three used school buses by auction

¯ Was notified that Building Bridges to Careers — BB2C — is the official business advisory partner for the district

The board meets next May 22 at 7 p.m. at the high school.