Otsego considers financing options

TONTOGANY – Members of the Otsego Board of Education have approved participation in the Ohio School
Facilities Commission to complete phase two of its master plan.
At its meeting this morning, the board also continued its discussion of financing options for the
elementary planned for the Tontogany campus. A decision needs to be made before the August deadline to
place a tax issue on the November ballot.
District Treasurer Pam Harrington was authorized to complete paperwork to apply for federal stimulus
money to use toward the estimated $3.9 million local share of the new elementary. The treasurer said she
had heard at least 100 of Ohio’s school districts have applied, but the federal fund may be as large as
$200 million.
The board also has learned that the Ohio Association of School Business Officials provides financing for
construction projects, at a better interest rate than if the district went out on the market. Harrington
said OASBO representatives said the organization would have no problem financing Otsego’s $3.9 million
share of the construction project.
"I was very happy to hear that since they are just a reputable organization," she said.
"It was just like a new door opened for us."
The board has been investigating various options for funding the proposed new elementary, which would be
for prekindergarten through fifth grades.
In May, a representative from Squire, Sanders & Dempsey LLP attended a meeting to explain how a
lease-purchase agreement would work. Such an agreement could be entered into without voter input, and it
also would mean the district would not have to turn to taxpayers for project funding.
The board also could go with a traditional property tax to fund the project, with a ballot issue
appearing before taxpayers in November. The district would have one year to pass the millage to fund
phase two of the construction plan.
Additional information on interest rates for the various options is expected at the board’s July 27
meeting.
Phase two must be completed before the state will release the $14.1 million credit Otsego has for work
already completed on the new high school and renovations to the junior high and elementaries.
Nathan Wallace, a member of Tontogany Village Council, announced that a meeting of citizens who support a
centralized campus will be held July 16 at 7 p.m. at the village hall. Wallace added that
representatives from Elmwood School District will be on hand to talk about their experience going to a
central campus.
Also during the meeting:
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Harrington announced that the district will end the fiscal year with an unencumbered cash balance of
$612,000, which she called "pretty slim" when compared to the district’s $13 million operating
budget. She reiterated that the district would need new operating money to prevent a deficit budget.
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The board agreed to nominate member Lisa Hatfield for the Ohio School Boards Association Outstanding
Board Member for the northwest region. Hatfield is serving as president of the region.
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Gave a first reading to a policy that would create a student associate position on the school board. The
associate would be a junior or senior, selected from a committee appointed by the board, and would serve
for one school year. The student would not having voting privileges.