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Taxpayers could recoup $23 million

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Vivian Moon View Drop Down
MUSA Council
MUSA Council


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    Posted: Jul 22 2014 at 6:39pm

Posted: 5:35 p.m. Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Taxpayers could recoup $23 million on school building project

By Michael D. Pitman

Staff Writer

MIDDLETOWN —

The Middletown City School District is considering an option that will save taxpayers millions of dollars when it comes time to build its new middle school and renovate the high school.

The district plans to apply for Ohio’s Classroom Facilities Assistance Program that will take advantage of the state’s ability to pay 64 percent of the balance of the district’s $155 million master plan project. The district already paid for $77 million of the master plan project — building six new elementary schools and renovating two older ones.

By doing this, the state will kick in $10 million more than the $40 million committed by the Ohio Schools Facilities Commission, and over the life of the 37-year financing period, around $23 million in savings will be realized, said Middletown business manager George Long.

The board will consider a resolution to enter into the CFAP agreement with the state at its August meeting.

“If there is a way to save the voters some money, we should explore that option,” said board member Christi Delloma.

The city already has an 11-year-old agreement with the state, known as the Expedited Local Partnership Program, where the state only paid for 26 percent, while the city kicks in the remaining 74 percent. The board will consider canceling that agreement, which would have no impact on the CFAP agreement.

“Over the years, the valuation of Middletown has dropped off because of the valuation in taxation, because of overall property valuation,” said Long. “Nowadays, if we would sign that same agreement, believe it or not, the state would come forward with 64 percent of the project total, and locally we would only have to come up with 36 percent.”

The new percentages would mean the state would kick in an extra $10 million, and the local funding would be lowered by that same amount. Middletown Treasurer Kelley Thorpe said over time, paying back the loan with the bond proceeds the city’s portion would equate to a $23 million savings.

“It’s like the interest in a mortgage,” she said. “You may buy a house for $100,000, but by the time you pay that over 30 years you’ve actually paid $250,000. You’re actually taking the mortgage out for $10 million less, and over time that will save the community over $23 million.”

Thorpe said the district will then work with the Butler County Auditor to readjust the millage to a lower level “to pass that savings back to the homeowner right away.”

Long said the district’s equity ranking from the state — which worsened by more than 200 points equated to a larger share in state funding — came out well after the school district passed legislation to place the bond issue on the May ballot.

Long said it’s not yet known when shovels will dig into the ground on the new middle school. He said the first two levels of a six-level design phase needs to be completed first. After that point, he said, “We’ll know what those construction times will look like.”

 

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