Even though members of the community attended recent Adams County/Ohio Valley School Board meetings over the past two months to voice their opposition to a tax-shifting plan, the Adams County/Ohio Valley School District moved forward with the tax increase last month, though it was smaller than first proposed. Board members Richard Davis, Charlie Bess, Judy Campbell, and Gay Lynn Shipley voted in favor of the tax increase while member David Riley voted no.
In 2019, the Informer was the only local news outlet to report that the bonds passed by Adams County voters to build four new Adams County High Schools were nearly paid off and taxes were set to decrease. With roll call vote and the stroke of a pen, the Adams County/Ohio Valley School District will keep a portion of the revenue without a vote of the local electorate.
On May 10th, the Adams County/Ohio Valley Local School District held a public hearing on the matter, because they are required to do so by law.
Brian Switzer, who is the Treasurer of the Adams County/Ohio Valley Local School District informed those in attendance that the hearing was not a debate or a question-and-answer session, but the board will sit and listen to what citizens have to say. Switzer declined to answer questions in writing to the Informer.
Several citizens complained to the Board of Education about their proposed action. “I don’t feel like you should be able to take the tax levy that we voted on and do this and run it as a permanent to continue on – I think it should go back to the taxpayers to allow to make them to make that decision,” said Holly Johnson, a resident of the Seaman.
“It should be my choice,” said Susan Powell. “My choice on where that money goes. You shouldn’t be able to move money like this,” Powell continued. “I think it’s wrong. This is like coming in the back door – people can’t be here at 5 o’clock to come here and state their point.” Powell said she didn’t have an issue with how the district spends the money, she was concerned that the district is trying to take this action without a vote of the people.
In a story featured in this newspaper last month, the Treasurer of the Board, Brian Switzer was working to help the board ‘craft’ their message to the community because the issue would be controversial.
In the mid-1990’s, local voters approved a whopping $44 million bond issue to build the new schools and now property owners have nearly paid their debt obligations by way of property taxes. In the public notice, the district said that the purpose of the public hearing was to consider a proposal to change 2.5 mills of the millage now being levied for current expenses to 2.5 mills to be levied for permanent improvements for tax year 2021, payable in 2022, for a continuing period of time. Even though the 2.5 mill proposal was being discussed, it appears that the Board reduced the amount to 1.5 mills at the June 24th Board meeting, meaning property owners won’t be receiving as large of a tax increase as first proposed.
The Adams County/Ohio Valley School District currently receives five different levies from local taxpayers.
By law, school districts can levy a certain amount of millage without the consent of the electorate. Voters have rejected multiple attempts by the district to raise taxes over the past decade.