Johnstown Independent

Johnstown-Monroe on the ballot

Bond issue delayed, but renewal levy a go

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The Johnstown-Monroe Board of Education delayed a bond issue, but an emergency operating levy will appear on the May ballot.

The school board voted 5-0 during a special meeting Jan. 29 to place an 8.5-mill renewal on the ballot.

"It's strictly a renewal," district treasurer Tammy Woods said. "Voters will not see an increase in their taxes."

Woods said the 8.5-mill levy would raise $2.2 million each year for four years, accounting for one-seventh of the district's budget.

"Wow," she said, adding that the revenue is strictly for the district's basic operating costs.

Woods said that over the years, the levy is actually costing each household less money to consistently raise $2.2 million for the district. When the levy first was approved in 2009, it was 9.6 mills. Over the past 20 years, she said, the district's overall property values rose. When the values rise, the levy millage shrinks, per a 1976 law known as House Bill 920.

Licking County deputy auditor Cindy Haas said the 8.5 mills would cost a total of $260.13 annually per $100,000 of assessed property value. She said that by about mid-February, all Licking County residents should be able to access Licking County's website and calculate exactly how much ballot issues would affect them, based on their properties' specific values. However, that information won't available until the Licking County Board of Elections has certified all ballot issues for that election. Feb. 6 is the deadline for school districts and all other entities to deliver May ballot language to the elections board.

Should the May levy pass, it could pave the way for a 6.55-mill bond issue, plus an additional 0.5-mill permanent improvement levy that the state requires, to appear on the August ballot, at the earliest. The roughly $50 million bond issue would be devoted to replacing the district's aging and overcrowded facilities.

On Jan. 21, the board voted down a measure to place the bond issue on the May ballot, instead hoping to make sure the 8.5-mill renewal levy passes first so the district could keep its current facilities operating adequately.

Board members Amy Ramey and Terry Holter voted against placing it on the May ballot, prompting board member John Davis II to walk out.

"We'll be able to turn the lights on in the schools," Ramey has said.

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