Johnstown Independent

Johnstown-Monroe bond issue

Community group strategizes for campaign efforts

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A community-based group will reconvene this week to discuss ways to educate Johnstown-Monroe voters about a proposed May ballot issue to build two new schools and renovate the high school for middle school use.

Residents are invited to attend the meeting at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 12, in the Johnstown Village Council chambers, 599 S. Main St.

Group volunteer Jay Hazelbaker said the intent of the meeting is to identify where to focus efforts on community education and how to best go about that process.

"We want to get input to formulate ideas and assign smaller committees to tasks," he said. "The first meeting with the community is to get as many people as we can to get them engaged and working on different facets of the effort and to decide what those facets are."

At the recommendation of the community group, the school board took action Jan. 30 to place an issue on the May 6 ballot.

After certification by the Licking County auditor, district treasurer Tammy Woods said, the issue will be 8 mills, with 7.5 mills for bonds and a 0.50-mill levy for maintenance of the new buildings.

If approved by voters, the issue will generate $1,865,231 annually for 38 years.

Residents would pay an additional $280 annually per $100,000 of assessed property value, or $23.33 per month.

The community-based group recommended and the board approved a proposal for a shared project with the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission for a K-5 building at Leafy Dell, a new 9-12 building on the existing high school campus and a partially renovated high school for middle school use. The renovation would have to be entirely locally funded.

Johnstown-Monroe will would be responsible for 71 percent of total costs, with the state contributing 29 percent for the shared building projects.

If voters approve the issue, Woods said, an estimated $29.7 million will be spent on the district's master plan for a new high school and elementary, whereas $6.16 million would go toward the locally funded initiative to refurbish the high school and provide infrastructure needs, for a total project cost of $35.86 million.

The high school renovation would include new heating and ventilating equipment, water and sewer improvements, electrical subpanels for electrical capacity to classrooms, technology upgrades, roof replacement at the library and performing-arts center, a secured vestibule entrance, a new gym floor and new bleachers.

Group volunteer Paul Garland said the figures shown during the Jan. 15 presentation were based on 2013 OFCC cost sets -- a value for construction based on a state assessment.

The figure presented to the board Jan. 27 included a 4-percent inflation factor for the 2014 cost sets that are determined in March, he said.

"We're continuing to work in concert on this with the board," Hazelbaker said. "The board has asked us as a community group to serve in the capacity we have to educate and involve the community. Now we'll continue in the same vain to make sure the voters understand what we're doing and why."

He said he hopes more people would get involved to make it a community-wide effort.

"We invite people who are interested in getting behind the effort," Hazelbaker said. "It's a different purpose than the other community forums. This is about how to take it to the community and provide the information they're looking for."

A second planning meeting has been scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 26, at the Johnstown Village Council chambers.

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