Columbiana schools seek $4M bond issue for building repairs

COLUMBIANA Residents in Columbiana and Mahoning counties are being asked to support a bond issue that would generate $4 million over 29 years for improvements at South Side Middle School.

The 1.228 mills bond issue is on the Nov. 5 general election ballot and if passed will cost the owner of a $50,000 home an additional $21.53 a year in taxes.

The cost has increased by $2.70 since the May special election following the elimination of the 12.5 percent rollback included in the state’s biennial budget.

The district reached out to Sen. Joe Schiavoni seeking a delay on the provision so the elimination would not effect the bond issue, and afterward Schiavoni introduced legislation to delay all levies on the November ballot.

State Rep. Nick Barborak introduced similar legislation in the House, and it is unknown whether the bills will be approved before the election.

The two Democrats voted against the state budget.

School officials have said that if the bond issue does not pass the district will need to use operational money to replace the aging and leaky roof at the 50-year-old building, and that could mean cuts in staffing and other areas in the future.

If passed, the tax money will also be used on upgrades to the heating and ventilation system and replacement of ceiling and floor tiles, and handicap accessibility at the school.

The money will not be used on extracurricular facilities.

Because the South Side renovations fall under capital improvements a bond issue is one way the district can raise the money through taxes. Capital improvement projects can also be funded by permanent improvements levies, which the district has not had since 2003 when voters opted for an income tax levy instead.

The district is collecting on the 4.6 inside millage for permanent improvement purposes and Posey said that tax money is being used to pay back debt for the refinancing of the high school and renovations at Joshua Dixon Elementary.

It is also collecting 20 mills from continuing levies approved prior to the 1980s, with those taxes going to the general fund, she added.

Bond issue money can only be spent on capital improvements and Ohio Revised Code stipulates that proceeds from a bond can only be used for that it was intended for, which in this case is a new roof and other repairs at South Side.

The district has already begun the process of patching a section of the roof using general fund money and has moved students to another section of the building and Joshua Dixon Elementary in the meantime.