Licking County News

Southwest Licking will put 6.1-mill bond on May ballot


Southwest Licking school board members voted 5-0 during a Jan. 7 special meeting to place a 6.1-mill bond issue on the May ballot to generate $66,525,000 for a construction and renovation project.

A 6.04-mill bond issue failed Nov. 5. It would have provided about $66.5 million for the $10- million construction and renovation project. The bond would have cost property owners about $211 per year per $100,000 of assessed property value.

District officials have said the state is willing to chip in $42.5 million, but the funding might be pulled if the bond request is rejected in May.

The district worked with the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission to create a master plan for the proposed renovations and new construction, which cannot change. But the district also created a list of locally funded initiatives.

Assuming the bond issue is approved in May, Superintendent Robert Jennell said, the master plan will be more expensive because of the passage of time and the locally funded initiatives will need adjustment, particularly pertaining to the elementary schools.

Treasurer Richard Jones said Jan. 7 that the school board could choose to place a 6-mill bond issue on the ballot to raise $65,525,000 or a 5.98-mill bond issue to raise $65,250,000.

"The only reason to do it would be (to cross) a mental hurdle," he said, adding that voters might be more willing to pass a 6- or 5.98-mill bond issue instead of one for 6.1 mills. However, doing so would place more locally funded initiatives in jeopardy, he said.

Board member Dave Engel said he wanted to move ahead with the 6.1-mill bond issue. He said the situation was discussed in committee and it was determined the project couldn't be scaled back significantly.

"I think we need that full $66,525,000," Engel said. "We did cut out some of the things we originally wanted to do to stay within the $66,525,000."

All board members agreed to stick with the $66,525,000, which they will file for the May 6 ballot.

During the board's Jan. 7 organizational meeting, which took place just ahead of the special meeting, new board member Daniel Bell was sworn in to office, as were incumbents Don Huber and Roger Zeune.

Huber was named board president, replacing Engel, and board member Debra Moore will continue as vice president.