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UPDATE: Voters approve West Liberty-Salem bond issue

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Strong support within the village Tuesday was enough to overcome a modest deficit in rural areas and push the West Liberty-Salem bond issue into the win column in a special election.

The levy passed 734-632, according to unofficial results from the Logan and Champaign County Boards of Elections. Seven WL-Salem precincts in Champaign County narrowly rejected the measure 305-297. However, the issue received wide support in Logan County and passed unofficially 437 to 327.

The school will partner with the Ohio School Facilities Commission to overhaul its K-12 building. Improvements will include replacing the roof and heating and cooling systems, more classroom space, a revamped parking lot and additional access from U.S. Route 68.

“We’re very grateful to voters in the district for supporting this initiative,” Superintendent Kraig Hissong said. “I think the public really came to understand the project well.”

Voters approved a 27-year, 3.62 mills property tax that will raise $7.55 million of the $11 million local share and would tax the average West Liberty property about $140.

The remaining local balance will be brought in by a 23-year, quarter-percent income tax that will cost the average income about $114 more per year.

A similar, property-tax-only measure was rejected by about 100 votes in November, 1,573-1,475; a defeat driven in part by wide losses in more rural areas of the district.

“The votes we picked up in Champaign County were big for us in getting this passed,” said Mr. Hissong, who attributed those gains to the district’s decision to add an income tax component to the request.  

School officials also worked to cut about $3 million worth of proposed upgrades since their first attempt to pass the levy, bringing the local share down from closer to $14 million.

The OSFC will pay for about $22.6 million of the cost to renovate the building.

Certain financial aspects of the project may begin immediately, Mr. Hissong said, including selling bonds.

Work on the building should begin between six months and a year, depending on how architects lay out the work, the superintendent revealed.

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