2-vote margin: Waynesville anxiously awaits decision on $26M bond issue

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2-vote margin: Waynesville anxiously awaits decision on $26M bond issue

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Ty Greenlees
A plan in Waynesville to build a new elementary school and preserve part of an old school in a community center hinges on passage of a 4.68 mill, 37-year bond issue on Nov. 7 ballots. It is too close to call still, with provisional ballots still to be counted. STAFF/TY GREENLEES

A plan in Waynesville to build a new elementary school and preserve part of an old school in a community center hinges on passage of a 4.68 mill, 37-year bond issue on Tuesday’s ballots.

But with some ballots yet to be counted, unofficial totals on Tuesday left the issue undecided, showing only a two-vote margin of victory — a single vote in each of the Warren and Greene county portions of the district.

“We’re not celebrating yet,” said Superintendent Pat Dubbs while waiting to board a plane back from Washington D.C., where the existing elementary school was recognized as a Blue Ribbon School.

Passage of Issue 19 would: repay debt on bonds to be issued to finance more than $26.5 million used to build a new Waynesville Elementary School; use the facade of the 1915 Building, a former school building, as the front of a new community center; and improve parking, traffic flow and make other changes at the Wayne Local Schools’ complex off Dayton Road.

The 4.68-mill bond issue would cost the owner of a $100,000 home $163.80 annually for up to 37 years.

The Ohio School Facilities Commission is expected to give the district more than $4.5 million for the new elementary school project and other eligible expenses.

The local Mary L. Cook Public Library is expected to chip in money, as well as staff, for the community center, to include an auditorium and meeting spaces.

This could enable the school district to pay off the debt sooner, saving money for future property owners. Alternately, Dubbs said the library money could be used to improve or staff the community center.

According to the plan, the board offices would moved to part of the former elementary school that will remain after other parts, along with the current district office, are razed, once the new elementary is built.

The transportation building is also moving to the back of the complex.

The bond issue includes 1 mill for the community center project, preserving the 1915 building facade, based on responses at community forums.

“There was a desire to try and save that building,” Dubbs said.

The whole thing relies on passage of the bond issue.

Boards of elections in Warren and Greene counties still need to count provisional ballots and absentee ballots that arrive after Tuesday’s count.

Election night tallies were 1,226 to 1,225 in Warren County, 11 to 10 in the small piece of the district in Greene County.

When the margin is less than 0.5 percent, an automatic recount is conducted.

It is unclear how many provisional and last-minute absentee ballots were cast and how they will affect the results.

“The wild card is going to be these provisional ballots,” Dubbs said. “It’s looking like we may not know anything until Nov. 21.”

In Warren County, there are 12 absentee ballots that were mailed out to voters in the Wayne Local School District that could still be returned, provided they are date stamped by Nov. 6, according to the board of elections.

At this point, no one knows how many of 326 provisional ballots yet uncounted would affect the issue.

The answer may be delayed beyond Nov. 21, when the board of elections certifies the results, if the final result requires a recount, Board Director Brian Sleeth said Wednesday.

In Greene County, the board of elections is to certify results on Wednesday, Nov. 22. A similar scenario could play out there, although fewer votes are in play.

Waynesville gets two shots at the state funds over 13 months, $4.5 million or 21 percent of the educational parts of the project cost, according to Dubbs.

So if the bond issue fails, the district is expected to come back to voters in the spring, perhaps for a lower millage not including the community center project, Dubbs said.

“We’ll have to come back if we don’t pass and make some decisions,” he said.

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