SHELBY -- In its third and final ask for a new pre-kindergarten through eighth grade building, Shelby City Schools has discovered a way to potentially reduce costs to Shelby residents even further.
The Shelby Board of Education confirmed at their Oct. 22 meeting that any revenue collected from the Rover Pipeline would be used to reduce taxes on Shelby taxpayers. The goal of the district is to use Rover Pipeline money to pay towards the retirement of the bond issue.
"If we find that we have been able to meet our current year expenses with current year revenue, not including Rover Pipeline money, then that pipeline money could be used to pay the bond or the mortgage, and reduce the debt on the new building," explained Treasurer Elizabeth Anatra.
Because of the fact that the Rover Pipeline project occurred through the Shelby City Schools district, the board expects the district to receive additional public utility property tax revenue from the project beginning in 2019. The exact dollar amount that will be collected by the district is still unknown.
The goal is to use any net financial gains as a result of those property tax revenues to lower taxes to residents of the Shelby community by reducing or eliminating the payment on the bonds. There is approximately 17 miles of pipeline running through the Shelby City Schools district.
This idea of using pipeline money towards new school buildings is also being used at Hillsdale Local Schools in neighboring Ashland County. With 20 miles of duel pipeline and a natural gas compressor station all located within its district, Hillsdale Superintendent Steve Dickerson is hopeful the district could use its revenue to construct a new K-12 building without going to district voters for a tax increase.
"It's still important for us to pass this issue on the 6th because we don't know how much or how long the pipeline money will last," said Superintendent Tim Tarvin. "And the only way we get the $16.8 million from the state is to pass this on Nov. 6."
Shelby City Schools is trying to pass its third iteration of a proposed bond issue to build a new pre-kindergarten through eighth grade building. The issue on the ballot Nov. 6 is a 2.8 mill, 37-year bond issue that would cost Shelby voters $10.2 million. This proposal only addresses the new school building, not the rebuild of a crumbling W.W. Skiles Fields.
Shelby voters first rejected the district's first attempt at passing a levy to build a new school and a new football stadium on the Nov. 7, 2017 general election. Official results from the Richland County Board of Elections showed 2,263 votes (58.63 percent) against the bond issue, and 1,597 votes (41.37 percent) for the issue.
The issue was presented again with the football stadium at the May 8 primary election, and rejected again. Official results from the Richland County Board of Elections showed 2,229 votes (62.04 percent) against the bond issue, and 1,364 votes (37.96 percent) in favor.
According to Tarvin, this is the district's last chance to take advantage of funding from the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission (OFCC). Currently, Shelby is eligible to receive 50 percent of construction costs from the state.
The cost to build a new pre-k through eighth grade building would be $33.6 million total, with the state paying $16.8 million and the Shelby City Schools district contributing $6.6 million towards the project. This means a new building would only cost the voters $10.2 million.
The millage for the project dropped from 4.6 mills in May 2018 to 2.8 mills on the Nov. 6 ballot. That equals $8.17 per month for a home valued at $100,000; for senior citizens that quality for the senior discount, the monthly cost would be $6.13.
If passed, the bond issue would fund a 132,000 square-foot building for Pre-K through eighth grade students that would be designed to keep the primary, intermediate and middle school grades located in separate wings.
The district would keep and utilize nearly 50 percent of the current middle school building, including the David A. Jones Little Theater, the Joe Yohn Gymnasium, the cafeteria and the music rooms. No money from the bond issue would be put towards renovating the current middle school.
The board of education offices would move to the middle school, and Auburn, Dowds and the majority of Central Elementary Schools would be demolished and turned into green spaces, or sold. Central Gymnasium would be kept and utilized as a locker room facility for football games.
If the bond issue passes, Tarvin said the district would take the next year to interview and hire architects and construction firms to determine who will build the school. Construction would then take approximately three years.
"If it doesn't pass, we'll have to go back to the drawing board," Tarvin said. "The board of education will have to have a real, serious conversation about how we move forward as a district."
Renovating the current elementary and middle schools would cost more than building an all-new building - just to renovate the middle school would cost $22 million. The projects would still require passing a bond issue, and state money would likely be unavailable for additional assistance.
"We would have to petition the state to pay that money," Tarvin explained. "They know that renovation is more than building new, and they want kids in new buildings, not 70-year-old buildings."
Tarvin hopes that Shelby voters go to the polls on Nov. 6 feeling well-informed about the project.
"Please take a look at this and understand the changes that have been made that have reduced this - a $33 million project for $10.2 million," he said. "We are hopeful that people will recognize that we have scaled this project down to make it as affordable as possible."