NEW PHILADELPHIA Dover, Oh

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Gnadenhutten, Ohio - Tusky Valley district officials are offering additional information about a plan to fund future facility improvements with the tax revenue generated by the Rover Pipeline.

During a public hearing on October 8 at Tusky Valley High School, Superintendent Mark Murphy shared the district’s plans to capitalize on the approximately $950,000 per year in additional utility tax revenue expected to be generated by the pipeline.

Murphy said the money will be used to move forward with a comprehensive facilities improvement plan that includes the construction of a new facility at the district’s campus on Tusky Valley Road to house grades 7-12 and the renovation of the existing middle school to house grades Pre-K-6. 

Additional aspects of the plan include the relocation of the bus garage to the area of existing student parking lot, improvements to the district’s stadium and athletic facilities, and the transformation of the existing high school into a community center and central offices.

Murphy said the project will be completed in phases, beginning with the new 7-12 building, and can be accomplished at no cost to the taxpayer because of the additional tax revenue expected to be generated from the pipeline. 

“We have an opportunity that we’ve been preparing for and we want to act on, and that opportunity is spelled Rover,  with a capital R,” he stated. “Without the utility tax revenue of the Rover Pipeline, I don’t believe we would have the ability to properly address the facility needs for Tuscarawas Valley Local Schools for a very long time. We want to prepare and act on that once in a lifetime opportunity.”

A portion of the revenue from the pipeline will be captured in a permanent improvement fund, along with a small amount of millage, to serve as the 61 percent local share of the estimated $24.6 million needed to complete the first phase of the project. The remaining 39 percent will be funded by the state through the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission, or OFCC.

During the meeting, Treasurer Mark Phillips explained the district’s plan for shifting 1.5 mills from inside to outside millage. He said the shift would generate about $400,000 annually, which would be combined with the Rover utility tax revenue to cover the district’s loan payments for the local share of the project.

He explained that the shift of millage will create a safety net for the district in the event that the state decides to reduce its support to the district. 

“Currently, the state does not have anything in the law that says they’re going to take that money away, but if they did, we still have to pay the debt of the mortgage associated with the building,” he explained. “Moving inside millage out to a permanent improvement fund gives us a dedicated revenue source to pay that debt down in the event that we lose state funding in the amount equivalent to what we are receiving from the Rover pipeline in taxes.”

Phillips noted that the additional revenue generated by the pipeline will also lower the tax rates associated with the district’s four fixed-sum levies, resulting in a savings of about $44 a year to the owner of a $150,000 home. 

During their regular meeting held following the public hearing, members of the district’s Board of Education voted unanimously to shift the 1.5 mills from inside to outside millage and establish the permanent improvement fund. 

STACEY CARMANY, TUSCO TV


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