Athletic complex focus of public hearing

Published 10:09 am Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Chesapeake board considering tax changes for possible renovations

CHESAPEAKE — About a year after the Chesapeake School district had to close down the track around its football field because of its deteriorating condition, the school board is looking into the possibility of replacing the athletic complex.

To do that the board wants to change the way it uses part of its taxes, which would mean an increase in property tax for residents of the school district. It would also mean a reduction in the amount of funds the district would have to operate.

That is the purpose of an upcoming public hearing set for 6 p.m. Monday, Aug. 29, at the Chesapeake Middle and High School campuses.

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“The board is allowed to move existing millage to permanent improvements,” Dr. Scott Howard, district superintendent, said. “The process by which they do it they are required to have a public hearing to comply with the law. We are having the hearing to listen. The board has not made a decision. … They declared an intent to move 2 mills to permanent improvement. If we do, it would be to renovate the athletic complex or some form of that.”

Right now the school uses 4.5 mills to finance partially the district’s current expenses.

Those mills are part of the 10-mill inside limitation that the district can levy without putting the issue on the ballot. Added to that inside millage are 16.5 mills that were voted on in 1976. That basically makes up the district’s total operating budget.

Over the years increased property value has reduced the actual millage levied on property to 15.5, according to the county auditor’s office. The rate would have gone below 15.5, except there is a state-mandated floor to protect school districts.

The board wants to move 2 of the inside mills from operating expenses to permanent improvements. By doing that, it would mean the district would have one fewer mill to use for operating expenses or approximately a reduction of $114,000, Deputy Auditor Chris Kline said.

It would also mean an additional $31.50 a year in taxes on property with a market value of $100,000.

“This is still all in the searching out stage,” board member Jerry Osborne said. “Our facility was built in the 1950s and is pretty rough. … We want the community involved and get their input on whether it might be something with repairs or total replacement. That is what I would like to see done, but I want to do what the community wants.”

Osborne said there are three different levels of changes that could be made.

“How we can would be according to finances and what the community will have,” he said.

According to Howard architect Mark Howard of Tanner, Stone & Co of Portsmouth has been hired to draw up three proposals, which will be unveiled at the hearing.

The district was also recently given permission by the county budget commission to move $475,000 to the permanent improvement fund from an overage that came when the bond issue for building the new high school was retired.