By LANCE MIHM
ST. MARYS — A thin turnout Sunday for a public meeting
on two school levies to be decided Nov. 4 left organizers both
disappointed and wondering where residents stand on the two
A team of school administrators, board members and a representative
from Firestone, Jaros and Mullin (FJM), the engineering firm
handling planning for the new school, were all present at the
Eagles Hall meeting but were given few questions from the audience.
Levy committee member Ron Gorby said, “The questions asked
were good solid questions that I thought we gave good answers
to. But some of the questions I thought would come up did not.”
After a short presentation of the content of the two levy issues,
the floor was opened to questions from the public. The first
question from resident Kathy Thistlethwaite addressed the thin
attendance. Only 58 people attended the meeting.
“We need this so badly,” Thistlethwaite said. “The
people that aren’t here are the ones that concern me.
We need to reach everybody. What are we going to do to sell
Levy committee member Tami Sanford replied by saying that flyers
have been sent out with detailed information about the levy.
“The Ohio Revised Code states that a 1⁄2 mill maintenance
levy to maintain buildings is required so that buildings are
properly cared for,” said resident Kraig Noble. “Will
we be asked again for more money if this is passed?”
“That has already been taken into consideration and would
be covered with the levy,” superintendent Paul Blaine
said. “Additional money would not be needed.
Resident Bill Kellermeyer asked if the present high school was
in such bad shape, why would adult education and administration
offices be moved to the high school after the new school was
“Our first priority is not putting the administration
in modern offices,” Blaine said.
Resident Joel Burke asked about cost overruns, and business
manager Kurt Kuffner responded by saying money was planned to
be set aside for change orders.
“We have worked very hard to keep change orders to an
absolute minimum,” Kuffner said.
Resident Don Dietz asked if extra curricular activities would
be cut if the levy fails. “It is critically important
to our total program now that operating levy passes,”
Blaine said. “We can not continue our current curricular
program if we do not approve the levy.”
Blaine added that if the operating levy was approved and the
building levy fails, the school could maintain current programs
but not improve on them.
The school board voted earlier this year to seek a 1 percent
income tax levy to generate about $2.1 million per year and
a 6.92 mill bond levy for new buildings under the Ohio School
Facility Commission’s (OSFC) Expedited Local Partnership
Program (ELPP) that will generate $27 million.
Sanford told the group that based on projections that flatline
state education money going to the school through 2007, the
school would incur a deficit of $108,562 in 2005 and see the
projected deficit balance extend to $4.06 million in 2007.
If the operating levy fails, the school would be forced by state
requirements to make cuts so the budget does not end up in the
red, he explained.
Sanford said any income that is taxable in the state would be
subject to the permanent 1 percent tax. Voters would be required
to fill out an annual income tax form. Adjusted gross income
from a taxpayer’s Ohio form provides the taxable amount.
Gorby presented the tentative plan for building should the school
bond levy pass. Construction of the high school would begin
in 2004, and the school would open in 2006. Seventh and eighth
graders would then move to the present high school building,
fifth and sixth graders would attend what is now McBroom Junior
High, third and fourth graders at West School and kindergarten
through second grade would go to East School. Moulton and Noble
schools would be closed and the administration would maintain
offices in the old high school.
The 6.92-mill levy proposal includes a 4.1-mill extension on
the present levy passed in 1997 for renovations to East and
West Schools and 2.82 new mills. Gorby said it would put the
community in a good situation because it would get a new school
while only seeing 2.82 new mills, or about $98.70 in new taxes
annually based on a $100,000 home. The income tax levy would
cost a person making $40,000 per year with three exemptions
about $364 per year.
“The income tax levy was decided on because it gives the
school more financial stability,” Sanford said. “
Income taxes go up with inflation while property taxes do not.
“I am a bit confused about the turnout,” Gorby said
after the meeting. “I don’t know if people have
made their decisions already or if people have other things
to do. This thing could go 75 percent one way or the other.
I simply don’t know what people are thinking. We were
prepared to answer all their questions and we had the people
present to do it.”