Graham elects 3; school taxes OK’d

Staff report

Graham Local Schools voters on Tuesday elected three new school board members to join two others whose terms were not up for a vote in 2019.

The crowded school board race followed several failed attempts at an earned income tax and deep cuts to transportation under previous superintendent Kirk Koennecke.

According to unofficial results, incumbent Ryan Pine finished fifth out of six candidates on the ballot. Fellow board members Mike Ludlow and Miranda Uhl did not seek re-election.

Winning the election to fill the three seats on the Graham board to start 2020 are Toni Kite (1,557 votes), Alan Mitchell (1,284) and Leslie Maurice (1,116). They will join sitting members Steve Setty and Steve Prince on the Graham board. Mitchell has previously served on the Graham school board.

Other candidates running for the Graham school board but losing on Tuesday were David Uhl (920), Pine (881) and Brittany Todd (875).

West Liberty-Salem voters were asked to choose two school board members out of a slate of two candidates whose name appeared on the ballot and a third who ran as a write-in candidate. Champaign County tallies were: write-in candidate Ryan Cole, 344 votes; Trey Richardson; 293 and Pat Adams, 285. Logan County tallies were Cole with 458, Adams with 398 and Richardson with 340. Combined, Cole had the most votes with 802, followed by Adams (683) and Richardson (633).

School tax issues

Four school districts had issues on the Tuesday ballot.

Graham’s five-year, 1.5-mill permanent improvement renewal levy was approved, 1,647-1,267. First passed 40 years ago in 1979, dollars from this levy can only be used for the improvement and maintenance of property and the acquisition of transportation equipment. It cannot be used for salaries or benefits for employees.

This levy generated $148,068 in tax year 2018, according to Interim Superintendent Matt Curtis. Some items that have been funded with these dollars in the past are school buses, school bus cameras, paving for parking lots, computers for students and plumbing repairs.

Urbana’s continuing 5.9-mill renewal operating levy for current expenses was approved, 1,438-1,368. This levy first passed in March of 2000 and has been renewed three times (2005, 2010, 2015). Instead of seeking a five-year levy this time, the district asked voters to make this a continuing levy and they agreed.

The levy generates approximately $1.2 million a year to support the day-to-day operations of the district. Since the renewal is for a continuing period of time, voters will not be asked to approve it again.

Triad’s 1.75-mill bond issue for new athletic projects and a 0.25-mill permanent improvement continuous levy for safety projects was approved by a wide margin of voters in Champaign County, 586-437, and 40-31 in Logan County.

Both funds that were on one ballot issue Tuesday would start being collected in January 2023, after the current levy expires. Upon passage of this levy the district had committed to eliminate the Pay to Participate fees of $60 per student per season currently charged to families with athletes in the Triad school district. The 1.75-mill bond issue would be for a term of 20-30 years, depending on the final project cost.

In 2002 voters passed a 2-mill bond issue for 20 years to build the high school and renovate the current elementary and middle school. The tax collections for that bond issue will expire in December 2022. The board was asking voters to continue those 2 mills beyond 2020.

West Liberty-Salem’s five-year, 1.5-mill permanent improvement renewal levy passed in Champaign County, 397-284, and passed 559-281 in Logan County. The tax generates about $155,000 a year to construct, improve, renovate, remodel, equip and furnish buildings, according to ballot language.

First approved by voters in 1969, the levy has been renewed or replaced every five years and has funded such needs as maintaining and repairing school property, purchasing school buses and items such as computers, instructional material, textbooks and desks.




Staff report