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Commissioners discuss possible Hopewell levy

| June 27, 2017

COSHOCTON – The Coshocton County Commissioners met with Steve Oster, superintendent of Hopewell Schools on Monday, June 26 to discuss the possibility of putting a levy on the November ballot. Oster is hoping to add a replacement levy to their continuous 2.3 mill levy with a 0.5 mill addition.

Hopewell Schools serve about 100 children each year from age birth through 21. They provide services to about 330 adults age 21 and up with approximately 12 percent of adults served being senior citizens. Oster said new children are coming in all the time that requires their services.

“We are seeing a lot more with autism and those who are born with drugs in their system,” said Oster. “A lot of grandparents are raising these children because either their parents don’t want them or they are in jail. We have a demand for our services. People with disabilities are living longer.”

There has been a 46 percent reduction in staff since 2011 to try to save money. Seventy percent of their funding comes from local levies, leaving only 30 percent coming from state and federal dollars.

If the levy is approved for the November ballot and passes, Oster said it would cost a home owner with a $100,000 home $4.42 per month. Projection wise, this should get Hopewell Schools through the next 10 years. The continuing 2.3 mill levy passed in 2000. Hopewell also has another levy that renews every five years. If the replacement 0.5 mill levy fails, the 2.3 mill levy will continue.

“We’ve doubled in size, maximized our services, and cut where we can,” said Oster. “If we don’t pass, we’d have to see where we could cut some of our services like the pre-school and Help Me Grow that aren’t mandated by law, but are still great programs. I don’t want to see the cuts in the school system because you see the value these programs have on these kids.”

Oster said that the current statistics on autism are 1 in 68, but that now, the number is lower, meaning that it is getting worse.

“If Hopewell went away, the public schools would have to serve all of these students,” said Oster. “The nice thing about here (Hopewell Schools) is that I think the kids get the services they need. We have teachers who are trained in this and kids get a lot of attention with five to six kids per class. If they get in a classroom with 25 or more kids, they’ll get lost and won’t get the attention they need.”

No county money can be used for campaigning for the levy. Hopewell will be having fundraisers especially for campaigning.

“On the financial side of it, I’m impressed we got as far as what we have, but we want to be ahead of the curve with what’s coming down the road,” said Dean Hettinger, board of directors member.

The filing deadline for the November ballot is the middle of August.

The commissioners also approved and reviewed:

  • A motion to receive and review the treasurer’s May 2017 monthly investment portfolio as well as the May 2017 bank statements as presented by Cathy Williamson, county treasurer’s office
  • A motion to sign Resolution 2017-22 for the surface application of salt brine to be applied to the Walhonding Hills Campground
  • Receive the monthly transport expense report for the months of February, March, April, and May 2017 from Sheriff Timothy Rogers
  • A motion to accept the proposal of D.J.L. Consulting, LLC for the Coshocton County Commissioners Construction Projects for the calendar year 2017 – 2018 in the amount of $40 per hour
  • A motion to accept the resignation of Tiffany Swigert from her position of executive director of Regional Planning / County Safety and Loss Control Coordinator effective July 9.

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Category: Government

About the Author ()

I have been employed at the Coshocton County Beacon since September 2009 as a news reporter and assistant graphic artist. I am a 2004 graduate of Newcomerstown High School and a 2008 graduate of Capital University with a bachelor’s degree in Professional Writing. I am married to John Scott and live in Newcomerstown. We have two beautiful daughters, Amelia Grace Scott and Leanna Rose Scott.

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