The Delaware Area Career Center has filed a Writ of Mandamus with the Ohio Supreme Court after a Board of Elections filing error resulted in the 2015 operating levy tax bills not being sent to property owners.
In the document the DACC states that in 2015, voters in Delaware County approved the DACC’s renewal levy by a margin of 10,644 votes. The levy originally passed in 2001 and was renewed in 2005 with a promise from the career center that it wouldn’t seek a renewal for 10 years said DACC Superintendent Mary Beth Freeman.
Freeman said collections for the 2005 levy ended on Dec. 31, 2016.
However, DACC officials learned in December that the Ohio Department of Taxation would not be collecting the tax bills for the levy because 1,026 voters who live in Franklin, Marion, Morrow and Union County were not able to vote on the levy when it was on the ballot in 2015. The career center reports that even if all 1,026 unaccounted voters voted “no” on the levy it still would have passed by 9,618 votes.
Freeman said the DACC primarily serves Delaware County, but students who live on the edges of the other four counties also attend because they are part of the Olentangy and Buckeye Valley School Districts.
According to the writ, the DACC was legally obligated to file the levy paperwork with the county where the majority of their voters live, Delaware County, and the Delaware County Board of Elections was responsible for filing the levy for the 1,026 residents in the other four counties. The DACC reports that the Board of Elections failed to file that paperwork with the other counties and the levy did not appear on the ballot for those 1,026 voters.
Jane Hawes, the Communication Manager for Delaware County, said the Board of Elections made “an honest mistake.”
“We are all working together to find a solution,” Hawes said. Hawes said the county is supporting every effort to resolve the situation.
The DACC’s filing reports that the career center should be receiving $7,119,937 in 2017 from the levy, but has not yet received any. The Writ of Mandamus asks the Ohio Supreme Court to immediately order the Ohio Department of Taxation to begin tax collection for the DACC in the five counties.
Freeman describe the incident as a surprise and said the DACC will take whatever actions are necessary to ensure students continue to get a quality education.
“We are stepping back and looking at all the costs,” Freeman said.
Freeman said the career center will likely have to pause the ongoing construction on the consolidated campus. The writ states that the DACC will be forced to reevaluate instructional improvements, programming and staffing as the result of the loss of funds.
“My focus and my priority is quality instruction,” Freeman said. “In order to have quality instruction I need my students and staff.”
Freeman said she is hopeful for a positive outcome but is considering all options.
“We need to look at all the outcomes,” Freeman said. “I appreciate the community’s support. (The DACC is working) to find a solution to keep the taxpayer’s interest at the forefront.”
The Ohio Supreme Court has yet to make a ruling. The writ was filed on Jan. 17.
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.