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Greene County voters may decide on new tax for career center

Voters in Greene County will decide whether to approve a new tax to pay for a new career center that would be built at U.S. 68 and U.S. 35.

The proposal is for a 20-year, 1.03-mill bond issue that would generate approximately $4.1 million a year while costing homeowners about $36 for every $100,000 worth of property.

Building the new facility is estimated to be a $62 million project, part of which would be paid for through savings achieved by the district, according to Greene County Career Center Superintendent Dave Deskins.

RELATED: Greene County voters will be asked for 4 levy renewals in November

About $18 million has been saved from two sources: A settlement on a faulty workmanship claim from work in 2010 and the permanent improvement levy that voters approved in 1996, which was the last time voters approved new revenue for the career center, Deskins said.

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“Between savings and contributions from business and industry, we will be able to equip the facility for generations to come,” Deskins said. “The career center has been working to save diligently to pay toward this. We’re currently in a position to contribute a substantial portion to support the project.”

Deskins said they tried to avoid this tax request by lobbying to change state law and allow the Ohio School Facilities Commission to help fund a new career center. The OSFC can fund renovations and remodeling projects but not new construction for career centers, Deskins said.

Language was included in the state’s last budget bill that would have changed the law, but when it reached Gov. John Kasich’s desk, it was one of 47 line-item vetoes.

“We were really close to finding a way to have the state help with this project,” Deskins said.

Most voters are supportive of building a new career center, if programming is expanded, according to a survey of voters that the Career Center conducted.

According to the survey, 59 percent of voters would support a new construction project, while 41 percent said “no.”

The potential new location at U.S. 68 and U.S. 35 is about eight miles away from the Career Center’s current campus on West Enon Road. Deskins said the proposed site is more centrally located for the county’s seven districts and would be closer for five of the seven districts served by the career center.

The Career Center has big plans for the new initiative “Take Flight,” which aims to train students to enter the aerospace and aviation industry. Deskins cites a job market study that indicates significant demand for skilled workers in engineering, manufacturing and information technology related to the aviation industry.

Deskins said the current facility at 2960 W. Enon Road was built in 1967, and the electric system is inadequate to accommodate new technology and equipment.

“This is an incredible opportunity not only for Greene County but for the region,” Deskins said. “We know it’s going to have an impact on Ohio’s economy.”

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