Thursday, July 04, 2002

Nov. 5 levy vote promoted

By Jennifer Mrozowski,
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Signs point to Nov. 5 as the date Cincinnati's school board will ask voters to support a $480 million bond issue for a school construction project.

        The board's finance committee members began the process Wednesday by reviewing paperwork necessary to place an issue on the ballot.

        The construction project, which the board has approved, calls for building 35 schools and renovating 31 more over the next decade.

        Treasurer Michael Geoghegan said the millage, which must be certified by the Hamilton County auditor's office, is expected to be 4.89.

        That would cost an owner of a $100,000 home an additional $143 in property taxes a year.

        For the bond issue to be placed on the November ballot, the board must file with the county board of elections by Aug. 22.

        Four board members on Wednesday said they favor November because momentum for the school construction project is high and interest rates on tax-exempt bonds are at their lowest level in 20 years.

        Interest rates are at about 5.05 percent, Mr. Geoghegan said. In 1995, they were at 7.2 percent and in 1982, they were at just under 13 percent, he said.

        The total cost for the construction project is estimated at $985 million.

        The state will contribute about $200 million, while the school district has lined up $300 million to pay for the rest.

        The $300 million comes from refinanced debt and agreements with Cincinnati and Hamilton County for payments in lieu of property taxes on Paul Brown Stadium and the new Reds Great American Ball Park.

        Cincinnati voters approved a 6-mill tax levy in November 2000, which has generated $35.8 million a year.

        It meant $175 in new taxes for the owner of a home with a market value of $100,000.


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