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Marietta board prepares to put building levy on the ballot again

The bond issue which offers Marietta City Schools to unify under a single-campus model is on track to be back on the ballot this fall.

“We (have) a resolution to ask our county auditor for the necessity of a bond issue,” explained Treasurer Frank Antill as the special board meeting of the district opened Monday. “There are two versions, in the resolution, there’s the version that has the half-mill maintenance added which is the first and the second one does not.”

“We need to make some decisions here if we’re going to move forward with putting something on the ballot this November,” explained board president Doug Mallett. “Unfortunately we’ve had a situation we’ve been working through with this virus the last three months and we haven’t been able to do as much communication with the public as we would have liked.”

But the timeline for utilizing state funding aid, and the eligibility window still called for a final attempt at a bond issue, he explained.

“If we don’t get (on the ballot) in November, our $30 million of state funding we have priority funding on will disappear,” Mallett continued.

The estimated project cost as presented last year, Hampton said, has not changed.

The resolution the board approved Thursday notes the need for approximately $46,196,400 in bonds to be spent on a master plan and approximately $9,473,600 to be spent on locally funded initiatives as permitted by the state. That total $55,670,000 bond would go toward safety and security improvements, furnishing and equipping the same and improvement of sites, acquisition of land to allow for the school district, as planned and proposed last year, to move to a single academic campus.

Last year’s proposal failed at the ballot box by 57 percent of the 6,345 votes cast with a 5.36-mills addition to property taxes for 37 years.

However, because voter turnout was only 21 percent of the registered voters within the district, the board noted hope for greater support in a presidential general election year.

“We should enjoy a little bit lower millage given where interest rates are,” said Mallett.

Board member Russ Garrison shared support to include a 0.5-mill maintenance levy in the resolution to solidify local matching funds as needed for the project’s progression.

“When we start using the state funds, we have to have a source for that half-mill maintenance levy,” said Garrison. “I think the cleanest approach is to include the half-mill in the information we ask the auditor for.”

After the final millage, including the 0.5 mills for maintenance, is calculated, the board will then in July vote upon whether to place the proposed bond issue on the ballot for November.

“What’s next is Frank will go to meet with Mr. (Matthew) Livengood at the county,” Hampton added after the meeting.

Livengood, as county auditor, will determine the percentage of levy added to property taxes within the school district, which encompasses not only the incorporated boundaries of Marietta city limits but also into Reno, Warren Township, Oak Grove and Devola.

Property tax boundaries with applicable school district taxing may be found on the county auditor website through searching by address.

Antill explained that action approved Monday does not in itself place the issue on the November ballot.

“The July 27 meeting we would place this on the ballot,” said Antill.

Mandy Amos, executive director of the board of elections, said Tuesday that the cost for the board to place the the issue on this year’s general election ballot is lower due to the federal election occurring in tandem.

“I figured them up an estimate that it was going to be around $4,500 if they put it on this time,” she said. “It’s cheaper to put it on this election because there are more things on the ballot this time.”

She said per state statute, additional costs also allocated to entities adding issues to the ballots can cover costs of poll worker pay and rentals for polling locations.

“But since it’s a federal election we can only charge them for the cost of what their ballots would be and charge for some advertising,” she said. “It’s in Ohio Revised Code.”

She said the board paid $7,992.67 to place the issue on the November 2019 ballot.

The board also entered into executive session concerning upcoming negotiations and evaluations of the treasurer and superintendent.

No action was taken after executive session Monday.

Janelle Patterson may be reached at jpatterson@mariettatimes.com.

What’s next:

• Washington County Auditor Matthew Livengood to determine the needed millage levied on property owners within the Marietta City Schools district to meet the $55 million revenue need for the proposed single campus.

• Then, Marietta City Schools Board of Education will utilize that millage in a further resolution and vote whether to place the issue on the November ballot.

Source: Marietta City Schools Superintendent Will Hampton and Treasurer Frank Antill.

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