South Point Council endorses school levy

Published 12:00 am Thursday, February 12, 2004

SOUTH POINT - The voters will not make their decision on the South Point school building levy until the March 2 primary, but the tax bond may already have at least six votes.

With a vote of 4-0, the South Point Village Council unanimously approved a motion of support for the tax levy that would provide funding to build four new school buildings, according to minutes from last week's meeting.

Councilmen Ron West and David Classing did not attend, but both have said they will support the levy.

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Preliminary plans call for Burlington Elementary to be rebuilt at its present site and South Point Elementary to be constructed where the high school and middle schools are currently located. Plans to build the middle and high schools on Sand Road outside the village limits have raised some concern.

South Point Mayor Bill Gaskin emphasized that he would like to see the school built within the village. He said he has to look out for the people and the businesses of the village.

"You can't call it South Point High School if it is not in South Point," Gaskin said. "The school is big for us and means a lot to our businesses."

Even if that area was annexed as a part of the village, it would still hurt because the traffic would be reduced and could affect these business whose

taxes go to the schools, Gaskin said.

A public meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. tonight at the Sybene Multi-Purpose Senior Citizens Center. Architect Herb Young will present preliminary designs.

Three previous bond and tax levy proposals were voted down, one in 1999 and two in 2000. The proposed 4.91-mil bond levy and a 0.5-mil maintenance levy would generate $7.7 million in property taxes over the next 27 years to go along with $30.8 million to be provided by the Ohio School Facilities Commission.

It will cost homeowners about $1.66 a year for every $1,000 of true property value, Deputy Auditor Chris Kline said.

For example, a homeowner who lives in a house with a property value of $30,000 would contribute $49.70 annually to the levy. Additionally, some residents may qualify for the Homestead Exemption Program, which is available to homeowners who are at least 65 years old and have an income of $24,700 or less or to homeowners who are permanently disabled with the same income requirements.

Councilman Classing said he supports the levy because it will be beneficial to the village and goes hand-in-hand with economic development and the marketing efforts at The Point because potential businesses look at the schools.

"In reality, it is a pretty good deal. For every $10 million we raise, the sate gives us $32 million," Classing said. "That is a small price to pay. Someone paid for my education and someone paid for their education. It is a cycle. You have to pay for the education of a future generation."

Classing said the fact that two of the building may not be in downtown South Point should not be a problem because people will still patronize area businesses. He used the Hillsboro City Schools as an example. The city recently passed a levy with a 2-1 margin and plans to build facilities outside the city limits.

Councilman Robert Armstrong showed his support, though he, too, would like to see the building stay in the village. But, most important, he said it should be done for the children.

"(Other districts) have passed us up," he said. "If we don't do something, our students won't be as well trained as others."

Armstrong said many people he has spoken to still want to see blueprints and specifics of what will be built here, not what has been built somewhere else.

If passed, the bond would ensure the school district funds for construction, additions, renovations, facility improvements and site acquisitions. It would also provide equipment, furnishings and site improvements.