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Thursday, November 7th, 2013

New Bremen bond issue won't be back soon

Voters to decide continuing income tax levy in May

By Margie Wuebker
NEW BREMEN - Voters in the New Bremen Local School District will see a continuing income tax levy on the May ballot but likely won't see another attempt at a combined bond issue/ maintenance levy for a school construction project anytime soon.
Superintendent Howard Overman told board of education members Wednesday night that officials earlier had warned that an income tax renewal levy would soon expire on the heels of the bond/levy campaign that ended in defeat Tuesday.
District residents defeated the 7.91-mill measure this week by a vote of 856 to 713. It marked the second time voters rejected the proposal to fund construction of a new K-6 building and additions to the high school to house seventh- and eighth-graders.
"We had a good plan," Overman said. "Maybe we need to let the dust settle a bit before deciding where our commitment lays."
Overman and treasurer Deb Meyer explained the income tax levy is something that must go forward. At 1 percent, it would generate approximately $1.65 million - down slightly from last year's $1.76 million.
"That represents 20 percent of our income," Meyer added.
Board president Kami Fox agreed.
"If we don't get it, it will cripple us severely," she said.
The current income tax was approved 10 years ago for a period of five years and a renewal garnered strong approval. Now officials are looking at a continuing levy with the same percentage so they will not have to come back to voters in another five years.
Meyer said seeking a renewal at the polls in May will costs the district anywhere from $4,000 to $10,000, deending on how many other items appear on the ballot.
Board members favor seeking a continuing levy. The first step is passage of a resolution at the Dec. 11 board meeting.
Discussion returned to the defeated bond issue that would have generated $14.6 million as a match for $6.975 million in Ohio School Facilities Commission funding. The remaining $994,108 of the $22.5 million project would have come from local permanent improvement funds.
Overman said many district residents favor waiting for a new school until the remaining high school debt is paid off in 2018. Others want the existing elementary/middle school renovated at an estimated cost of $17 million.
School officials continue to deal with mounting expenses at the building. 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. Additionally, there are ongoing roof, plumbing and heating issues.
"A no vote on Tuesday did not negate the need," Fox said. "Putting money in the current building hand over fist does not seem like an appropriate solution."
Overman said the board must weigh its options - committing to the old building or waiting until 2018.
Board members expressed their appreciation to the facilities committee that spent 1 1/2 years working on the building plan and the levy committee that promoted the measure.
"We will be coming back to the community at some point" the superintendent said. "It won't happen next year but we won't quit."
The board will embark on a transition period as elected newcomers Thomas Paul, Doug Hall and Shelley Busse come on board in January. They replace current board members Keith Bornhorst, Mandy Niekamp and Sharon Miller, who did not seek re-election.
Additional online story on this date
COLUMBUS - The Ohio Supreme Court on Wednesday was asked to rule whether jurors in 2011 had the right to convict former St. Marys optometrist Douglas Wine of a lesser crime than his indictment charge of rape. [More]
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