September 3, 2014

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Voters turn down JVS levy a second time in four months

PITTSFIELD TWP. — The mood was somber Tuesday night at the Lorain County Joint Vocational School after voters decided for the second time in four months that they did not want to increase their taxes to operate the school.

The JVS had sought a renewal of 0.75-mill levy, plus tacked an increase of 0.5 mills onto it to make a 1.25-mill levy.

Tuesday’s levy was rejected by a vote of 23,640 to 21,770, or 52 percent to 48 percent, according to unofficial returns.

In November, a larger request for a 1.75-mill levy also was defeated, but by an even larger margin. The bigger tax issue in November went down 56 percent to 44 percent.

JVS Superintendent John Nolan said the vote was closer, but the levy was still defeated.

“In this horse race, there’s no money for show or place — you’ve got to win,” Nolan said.

The superintendent said the vocational school will take a look at what it needs to do and whether it should trim the tax issue.

Putting the renewal only on an upcoming ballot “will certainly be one of the options,” Nolan said.

“It will be a team decision by myself, the treasurer and the board,” said Nolan. “We were really, really confident this time it would pass.”

JVS Board President Kathryn Karpus said the vocational school will consider its options after studying where support lagged for the levy, which would have provided 23 percent of the school’s operating budget.

Both Nolan and Karpus said the vocational school likely will look at putting an issue on the ballot again in a special election in August or in the November presidential election.

The November levy would be cheaper as it would cost the JVS about $100,000 to have it on the August special election ballot.

The next school board meeting is set for 6:30 p.m. March 15, at which time the board also will begin working on a timetable to find a replacement for Nolan, who is retiring effective June 30.

Had the issue Tuesday been approved, the owner of a $100,000 home would have paid a total of $35.41 a year, $15.31 more than voters now pay.

The additional millage would have brought in about $2.9 million of new money a year — less than half of the extra $6.4 million a year that the JVS sought in November. And, instead of the 10-year levy the JVS sought in November, the JVS this time trimmed it to a five-year levy.

The district had asked for additional money to fund $12.5 million of energy and heating and cooling upgrades for the 40-year-old building, $1.5 to repave the parking lot and replace $1.1 million in lost yearly revenue from the state.

The plans were more ambitious prior to the November vote – they called for the JVS to embark on a $45 million, 10-year master plan that would have included building new quarters for a culinary program and a new conference facility.

Approximately 1,200 high school students study at JVS, and its satellite centers provide education to another 800 students. Every year, the school also provides job training and retraining to some 3,000 adults.

The JVS also has a continuing 1.7-mill levy passed in 1971 that costs the owner of a $100,000 home $44.77 a year.

Contact Cindy Leise at 329-7245 or cleise@chroniclet.com.