By Joyell Nevins
MIAMI COUNTY — Two schools, two levies, two passages.
Both Tipp City’s renewal permanent improvement levy and Bethel’s additional tax levy passed last night.
“We’re very pleased that the voters of Tipp City continue to support their school,” Superintendent Dr. John Kronour said.
Tipp’s 2 mill, 5-year renewal levy generates about $700,000 annually for maintenance expenses, facilities and grounds repairs, and curriculum and technology purchases. It costs a taxpayer with a property valuation of $100,000 about $54 per year and brings in about $700,000 annually. It was first approved by the voters in 1968.
The levy passed May 6 with 2,015 or 59 percent of the votes, according to the unofficial results by the Miami County Board of Elections.
The levy funds can only be used for building construction or repair, site maintenance, technology upgrades, and other improvements to school property. Permanent improvements are generally considered to be items with a life of more than five years. The funds generated by a PI levy cannot be used for the district’s operating expenses, Kronour said.
Bethel’s levy will go towards a renovation and expansion of the schools. Unofficial election results from the board state the levy passed with 1,052 or 53 percent of the votes.
The 7.94 mill levy will generate $22 million dollars for renovations, including 20-25 added classroom spaces. It would cost the owner of a $100,000 home $277 a year or $0.75 a day. The district did not seek state funding for the project because state calculations consider Bethel to be in the same financial status as Oakwood, making Bethel eligible for only 20 percent matching funds. The state would also require a “total fix,” meaning all new construction or more renovations than the district can afford.
Bethel’s levy committee, ran by parent Lori Sebastian, encompassed an aggressive campaign of letters, visits, community meetings and even a YouTube music video.
“Lori and the levy committee did an outstanding job,” Superintendent Dr. Larry Smith said. “The board of education did a great job, too, engaging the community and making it a collaborative process.”
The district hired Ruetschle Architects last year, and has already brought on construction management firm Shook Construction.
“We’ve been very proactive,” Smith said.
Now that the levy has passed and funding is available, Smith expects Shook to start getting the ground ready this summer. He said the goal of completion is at the start of the 2016 school year.