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West Liberty schools seek bond issue

West Liberty-Salem Local Schools will ask voters in August to approve a revised tax issue to renovate and add on to existing buildings.

Voters will see a combined 3.62-mill bond issue and .25 percent income tax to raise $11 million toward a building project on the Aug. 6 ballot. If approved, it would cost the owner of a $100,000 home nearly $111 a year and about $100 a year for every $40,000 of income.

In November, nearly 52 percent of voters rejected a 7.55-mill bond issue. The district revised the property tax request for August based on input from the agricultural community and meetings with the public, Superintendent Kraig Hissong said.

“This time, the project is going to be a combined levy,” he said. “We cut the property tax in half and the .25-percent (income tax) basically makes up the other half of what is needed to fund the project.”

Jeff Harr, a farmer whose children graduated from West Liberty and expects to someday have grandchildren in the district, said the revised plan might be more favorable.

“It spreads the cost out more evenly and I think everybody’s general consensus (at the agricultural community meeting) was it was a lot more fair way to do it,” said Harr, who voted for the November issue and plans to again in August.

The district also revised the scope of the project, Hissong said. West Liberty taxpayers would split the cost of the $32 million basic project with the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission. The OFCC would pay for 71 percent, or $22.6 million of the cost.

West Liberty would pay $9.6 million of the basic cost and use an additional $1.4 million to cover what OFCC won’t pay for, like enlarging some classrooms and making security improvements.

The district eliminated some projects from the November plan. The local cost was reduced from $14.5 million in November to $11 million in August.

“Our building is almost 25 years old and most of the components in it are original,” he said. “The board is faced with some rather large maintenance, replacement needs, like our roof needs to be completely replaced … Those maintenance issues alone cost more than what our local share does, just with the OFCC project.”

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