Madison-Plains Board faces levy decisions

Dean Shipley Staff Writer

December 19, 2013

The Madison-Plains Board of Education (BOE) will transition at the end of the year and right away will have to decide when to put an operating levy on the ballot.

At a meeting Tuesday, Dec. 17, Treasurer Tim Dettwiller told the BOE the current operating levy will expire at the end of 2014. Newly elected board members, Robert Butz, Michael Datz and Kelly Cooley, along with current board members David Hunter and Ken Morlock will have to decide quickly if they want voters to consider a ballot issue in May. The board will need to hold enough meetings in January and early February if they hope to file by the Feb. 8 deadline to be eligible for the May ballot.

Part of the decision will include whether to renew the current operating levy, listed as 8 mills, but rolled back by the auditor and collected at 5.6 mills.

Though Dettwiller expressed some apparent anxiety about the district’s “track record” when trying for replacement levies rather than renewals, a need exists.

A need for additional revenue is called for in the district’s 10-year plan. Dettwiller said additional revenue will be needed to offset the deficit the district is projected to incur by 2018. To keep that deficit from happening, some “new” money is needed.

Departing BOE member Don Swonger said the need exists to pass an emergency operating levy.

“If we don’t get to that 20-mill floor, we’ll lose a chunk of money,” Swonger said.

That chunk of money comes from residents who build new homes, which are put on the books at 20 mills and are not subject to the auditor’s rollback. That would increase revenue for the district.

It is one based on a dollar amount rather than millage, Dettwiller explained.

The current operating levy, will complete its three-year cycle by Dec. 31, 2014. Though it’s listed as an 8-mill levy, it is collected at the rolled-back figure of 5.6 mills.

Regardless of what levy the BOE chooses, departing board member Rick Blosser said the district will need a “big effort” to convince voter to pass it.

“We have to shake hands, talk to people,” Blosser said. “Hard work will get it passed.”

Swonger said the status quo “won’t get our kids employed.”

“We’ve got to get more money in this (district),” Swonger said.

In other business, Superintendent Bernie Hall said before new HVAC units can be installed in buildings, the electrical service, which he described as circa 1956, will need to be updated. The electrical update along with HVAC for the gym, will have an estimated price tag of more than $450,000. Dettwiller said engineer’s estimates run high.

Payback on the investment is calculated at four years.

Hall also recognized Swonger, Blosser and Linda Blankenship for their service to the district on the BOE: Swonger, 13 years, Blankenship, eight years and Blosser, six months.

“Your commitment to the district is unparallelled,” Hall said as he presented tokens of appreciation.

The BOE also approved Mike Tomlinson as representative to the Mt. Sterling Public Library board for a seven year term. It was a renewal.

There was also a demonstration of the intermediate school’s Lego Robotics team, which had recently placed fifth of 24 teams in their age group and will move on to the next level of competition in January 2014. The team also won an award for graciousness in the competition, of which technology teacher, Chris Rhoads, was most proud.