After weeks in limbo, the Hilliard City School District's 5.9-mill operating levy has been approved by voters, according to final election results certified by the Franklin County Board of Elections on Nov. 22.

After weeks in limbo, the Hilliard City School District’s 5.9-mill operating levy has been approved by voters, according to final election results certified by the Franklin County Board of Elections on Nov. 22.

The final vote was 15,214 to 15,004, or 50.35 percent to 49.65 percent. That margin was greater than the half-percentage point necessary to trigger a recount, board of elections spokesman Ben Piscitelli said in a statement.

After the Nov. 8 election, the levy was down by eight votes, 14,613-14,605 with all 89 precincts reporting and absentee votes counted. However, when the board of elections counted late-arriving absentee ballots and provisional ballots (where there was a question about the voter’s identity), Issue 17 gained 218 votes for the 210-vote victory.

“This is a significant win for this community,” Superintendent Dale A. McVey said shortly after the official results were known. “The biggest winners are our students. At the end of the day, this is about 15,600 students and their needs. This is about continuing to be able to provide the opportunities for these students.”

McVey praised the volunteers who worked in support of the levy.

“We’re very appreciative of the 1,000-plus volunteers who worked on this campaign, who have literally given the last six months of their lives to this,” he said.

“If it wasn’t for their efforts, we would be having a very different conversation and we greatly appreciate their desire to keep strong schools in our community,” school board president Doug Maggied said of the volunteers in a statement.

Voters turned down a 6.9-mill levy in May, and if this levy had also failed, the district would have made more than $10.2-million in reductions, including eliminating 93 positions and high school busing.

“While this was a close election, our actions of reduced millage and shared sacrifice resonated with the community,” Maggied said. “Our residents told us last spring that they wanted to support our schools, but needed a more reasonable request from the district. Thanks in part to all employees taking pay freezes and contributing higher health care premiums, we were able to not only lower the millage request by approximately 14 percent, but we were able to stretch the funds for a third year.”

The levy would cost property owners about $181 in additional property taxes per $100,000 of home value. The district has said that if the levy passed, they would not have to go before voters again for another three years.

“We’re extremely pleased with the outcome and extremely appreciative in a very difficult economic period for us as a district and a nation,” McVey said.