The Ohio House bill aimed at extending the Delaware Area Career Center’s renewal levy is on its way to Gov. John Kasich after gaining passage in the House and Senate Wednesday night.
In 2015, voters in Delaware County passed the DACC’s renewal levy by 10,644 votes and the DACC would have begun collecting taxes this January from Delaware County, as well as small portions of Union, Morrow, Marion, and Franklin counties.
However, DACC officials learned last December that the Ohio Department of Taxation would not approve the levy because 1,026 voters who live in Franklin, Marion, Morrow, and Union counties were not able to vote on the levy when it was on the ballot.
The Delaware County Board of Elections has taken responsibility for not placing the levy on the ballot in those four counties and the DACC has taken steps to put a 0.8-mill levy on the ballot in all five counties this November to replace the 2015 levy.
However, State Representatives Andrew Brenner (R-Powell) and Rick Carfagna (R-Genoa Township) authored Ohio House Bill 124, which would extend the renewal levy in Delaware County and only place the levy back on the ballot in the other four counties.
The bill was approved by the House on May 17 and was sent to the Senate Ways and Means Committee. An amended version of the bill approved Wednesday by the Senate and the House is being sent to Kasich for his signature.
“This was a team effort by the career center, [DACC Superintendent] Mary Beth Freeman, and my colleagues Rep. Rick Carfagna and Sen. Kris Jordan as well as members in both the house and senate,” said Brenner in a release Wednesday night. “I would hate to think that students in Delaware county would not have access to a career center next year.”
The bill stipulates that it would continue the previous renewal levy, which would contain rollbacks from the State of Ohio, instead of a replacement levy, which would not contain the state rollbacks.
Freeman said Thursday that she was “pleasantly surprised” by how quickly the bill passed.
“I am so appreciative,” Freeman said. “[The bill] more than just than helped the DACC; it was important that they protect rollback for taxpayers. [Brenner and Carfagna] did it for their constituents, not just the career center.”
Freeman thanked Brenner and Carfagna and Sen. Kris Jordan (R-Ostrander) for working to get the bill passed.
“I have to make sure credit is given to them and [Delaware County] knows how hard they worked,” Freeman said. “I think what’s really important is that our community understands what our legislators did, not just for us, but for them.”
Freeman said she was appreciative of bipartisan support the bill had.
“Our legislators worked together to do what is right,” Freeman said.
Since learning that they would not be able to collect money from the levy, the DACC board of education has been making plans to halt the ongoing construction of the consolidated campus located at DACC South. Freeman reported the board would wait until the construction was structurally sound to suspend construction and at their board meeting on June 15 the board formally approved the suspension of construction.
The last day for construction at the consolidated campus will be June 30.
At the June 15 meeting, the board also voted to place a 0.8-mill levy on the ballot in all five counties, but said that if the bill is signed by the governor they would remove that levy and replace it with a levy for only Morrow, Marion, Franklin, and Union.
“I’m encouraged and excited to focus on the future but I remain cautious optimistic,” Freeman said. “Construction will remain on hold until we have a letter following the November election in those four counties that states our levy has been certified. I can’t expend or borrow against funds I don’t have.”
Freeman added that the DACC has received support throughout the process from the Delaware County Board of Elections and said she had “complete faith” in the board.
“We’ve been working together on this,” Freeman said. “They’ve been transparent, communicative, and done everything they can do to help us resolve this issue. I want other people to have faith in them, too, they have been wonderful.”
Freeman said she does not know when Kasich will get the bill but said she was told to expect an answer in mid-July.
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.