Wednesday, November 6th, 2013
New Bremen school levy fails
By Margie Wuebker
NEW BREMEN - Voters in the New Bremen Local Schools District once again defeated a combined bond issue and maintenance levy for a proposed building project.
Residents in Auglaize, Mercer and Shelby counties cast 856 votes, or 54.56 percent, against the combined 7.91-mill measure and 713 votes, or 45.44 percent, in favor.
In March 2012, just over 61 percent were against the proposal.
"It was closer than last time," Superintendent Howard Overman said Tuesday night. "We swayed some people, but not nearly enough."
Overman said it is too soon to say what will happen next.
Three current board members - Keith Bornhorst, Mandy Niekamp and Sharon Miller - did not seek re-election. Their seats will be filled in January by newcomers Thomas Paul, Doug Hall and Shelly Busse, who ran unopposed.
"We will be entering a period of transition with the board, and it will take some time and effort before we make a decision," the superintendent added.
Overman said he had concerns about passage of the bond/levy issue because of the relatively low turnout at community meetings and informal coffee gatherings.
The millage would have generated $14.6 million toward the construction of a K-6 building and high school additions. The Ohio Schools Facility Commission would have contributed $6.975 million to the $22.5 million project with the remaining $994,108 coming from local permanent improvement funds.
Approval of the combined millage would have cost the owner of a $100,000 home an extra $276.85 annually for a period of 33 years.
"I believe the remaining debt on the high school was a detriment," Overman said. "People would have paid more tax until the high school millage goes away in 2018."
The owner of a $100,000 home currently pays $241 a year toward the high school debt.
Following the 2012 defeat, the OSFC placed New Bremen "on the shelf" with other districts unable to pass needed millage, officials said. The same will likely occur this time, they added.
Treasurer Deb Meyer said at a recent community meeting the OSFC funding is only guaranteed during the state's current two-year budget. It would be up to legislators to re-establish the line item.
School officials will have to deal with mounting expenses at the elementary/middle school. The original three-story section was built in 1929 with additions in 1955, 1968 and 1991. The building has no air conditioning or sprinkler system capabilities, and has ongoing roof, plumbing and heating issues.
School officials and members of the facilities committee maintain it is too costly to renovate the building - an estimated $17 million project that likely would include temporarily moving students into modular classrooms.
Vote totals are unofficial until certified by boards of election in the respective counties.