Utility, school district on Nov. ballot


By David J. Coehrs - dcoehrs@aimmediamidwest.com



Election Day, Nov. 6, is on the horizon, and both a utility referendum and school levy will be among local issues on the ballot.

The Village of Delta will ask voters to decide whether to establish a municipal electric utility department, initially focusing on industrial complexes along the State Highway 109 corridor. A referendum petition was submitted in July to the Fulton County Board of Elections.

Village Administrator Brad Peebles said the project would require the approximately $4 million purchase of a substation built by Nature Fresh Farms over two years ago at the intersection of Airport Highway and State Route 109. Following the purchase, the village would contract with NatureFresh to assume repayment of the debt, in addition to a monthly user fee.

A municipal electric utility would redirect about $150,000 in taxes, annually sent to the state, back to the village. It would also provide an alternative for the village’s First Energy Corporation customers.

“This is not anything against First Energy. This is an opportunity for Delta to generate a new revenue source that would redirect taxes currently sent to the state,” Peebles said. “A substation would be a likely asset to purchase to extend power to other users.”

If approved, the municipal electric utility would first focus solely on NatureFresh as a customer, although other businesses along the State Highway 109 corridor will be considered.

“Given the current circumstances, we’re not actively seeking other businesses until this issue is resolved by the voters,” Peebles said. “I can only hope that educated people will make informed decisions.”

He said until a contract would be signed with NatureFresh, and the village secured power for up to three years, “we really don’t know what electric rates will be going forward.” But he’s confident they will be competitive with First Energy.

Peebles said in time the village could possibly extend the proposed municipal electric utility to village residents.

Wauseon Village Exempted Schools are requesting a 3.99-mill emergency property tax renewal, to begin in 2019. The eight-year levy would generate $841,089 annually.

The property tax was first approved by voters in 2011. Another renewal levy, earmarked for operational funds, was passed in March 2016 without an increase.

Due to controlled spending between 2013-17, the school district didn’t experience deficit spending and doesn’t now require additional tax revenue, WEVS Superintendent Larry Brown said. But the operational levy renewal “is necessary for the continuity of our educational programming,” he said.

He said the district will operate at 2011 tax levels for as long as possible through the use of general fund forecasting decisions that account for the community’s financial support.

Dave Fleming, WEVS treasurer and CFO, said every dollar received is critical to students’ success. “(Mr. Brown), along with our Board of Directors and our entire administrative and leadership team work diligently in a collaborative effort each and every day to provide the children attending Wauseon schools with the highest degree of education possible given the resources at our disposal,” he said.

Information about the renewal levy can be found at the district’s social media feeds and in the district’s newsletter. Questions can be referred to the Board of Education office, 419-335-6616.

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By David J. Coehrs

dcoehrs@aimmediamidwest.com

Reach David J. Coehrs at 419-335-2010.

Reach David J. Coehrs at 419-335-2010.