A half-mill permanent improvement levy for the Lorain County JVS will likely to be on the November ballot.
If passed, the new levy would raise between $2.4 million and $2.6 million annually.
It is not yet determined how much the levy would cost voters for every $100,000 of property valuation. According to JVS superintendent Glenn Faircloth, the school board expects to vote on the matter in May and June before sending approved specifics to Ohio Auditor Dave Yost.
Funds raised by permanent improvement levies go toward projects and purchases with a shelf life of five or more years such as building fixes, lot paving, and air conditioning upgrades.
Faircloth said rising maintenance costs in the over 50-year-old JVS building, including an expected $600,000 to $1 million purchase of new air handlers, have made new money a necessity.
There has never been a permanent improvement levy for the JVS since the school was founded in 1971.
“We’ve been doing everything we can to try and improve our facilities out of our general fund,” Faircloth said. “But we’re getting to a point where that isn’t going to be feasible. We have many, many materials still being used in this building that are from the inception of it. They’ve lived well past their expected life. We have great and skilled people here that have helped extend the life of those materials. That’s been a saving grace. But now we can’t repair certain things anymore. We have to replace.”
A .75-mill operational levy renewal for the JVS, which costs voters $23 per $100,000 of property valuation, was passed in 2016. Operational funds are used for expenses like employee salaries and utilities but cannot be used for permanent improvement measures.
The school spends roughly $1.5 million per year on preventative maintenance, not including the cost of repair and replacement projects.
“Preventative maintenance isn’t going to cut it anymore,” Faircloth said. “This levy would be huge for us. So many people depend on the JVS as a staple in Lorain County. Eventually, our auto tech or welding lab equipment is going to be outdated. Replacing it will cost several hundreds of thousands of dollars. We simply don’t have enough money to outfit a new lab. Some of our labs are already dated. Some of our infrastructure is dated and that creates a snowball effect.”
“We initially thought new air handlers would cost about $200,000 but once we got bids out there, we found out a lot of our duct work also needed replaced. It’s like going to replace your sink at home, pulling it out, and seeing you have galvanized pipe,” he said.
Jonathan Delozier can be reached at 440-775-1611 or @DelozierNews on Twitter.