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5 districts in Valley put issues on special ballot



Published: Sat, July 30, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



Three of the school issues failed in May.

Five Mahoning Valley school districts are asking voters for tax increases, including two looking to construct new buildings, on Tuesday's special election ballot.

Of the five, voters rejected similar measures in three school districts during the May 3 primary. Those are Lakeview, Jackson-Milton and East Liverpool school districts.

The two new tax issues are in the Girard and Sebring districts.

The Girard issue has three parts:

*A 2.4-mill bond issue to pay $5,441,000, the local share of school construction under the Ohio School Facilities Commission program, over 28 years. The junior-senior building would be for those in grades seven to 12, and the current school on North Ward Avenue would be demolished. The state would pay more than $21 million for the project.

*An additional 0.5-mill levy for 23 years to pay the cost of maintaining the classroom facilities included in the project. This would raise $1.6 million to maintain the school and is a state school facilities commission requirement.

*A 2-mill bond issue to pay the $4,559,000 costs of acquiring, improving and equipping real estate for school purposes to be repaid over 28 years. This is to buy the 117-acre Mahoning Country Club on East Liberty Street and Churchill Road, something that has drawn criticism from some city residents. The state doesn't give schools money to buy property.

It would take a year before construction could begin, and if all goes according to plan, the building would open in the fall of 2008.

The district would not buy the land unless the levy passes.

Avoiding an emergency

The other new tax issue on Tuesday's ballot is a 0.75 percent income tax to raise $390,000 annually for five years for the Sebring school district. Three attempts at traditional additional millage levies in the past two years have failed.

Sebring is on the state's school fiscal watch. If the income tax fails, the district would be about $150,000 in deficit by the end of the 2006-07 school year, and probably be placed in state fiscal emergency.

Lakeview schools want voters to approve a 3.5-mill, five-year additional levy for emergency requirements in the sum of $948,000. The tax issue was defeated in the May 3 primary by two votes.

School officials want the levy to pass so the district's finances can remain in the black after 2006.

The district takes in most of Cortland and parts of Bazetta and Mecca townships.

Bond for construction

The Jackson-Milton school district is seeking a 5.5-mill bond issue to borrow $12,425,000, to be repaid over 28 years. A similar measure failed by 84 votes in May.

The district wants to build a new high school and middle school complex on 101 acres of land that the board purchased two years ago, near the elementary school, as well as providing equipment, furnishings and site improvements.

The current high school and middle school on Mahoning Avenue is 92 years old.

The 0.1-mill difference in the increase to be sought Tuesday and the millage on the May ballot is because of a decrease in total assessed property value in the school district since the first measure was put on the ballot.

The East Liverpool school district, in state fiscal emergency, is putting a 12.4-mill, five-year additional levy on Tuesday's ballot to raise $2,024,000 annually.

The same levy received 40.5 percent of the vote in May.

skolnick@vindy.com




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