Some New Franklin voters in the city of 14,000 residents will be asked on Nov. 5 to provide increased funding for two of the city’s major amenities.

Voters citywide will have to decide whether to provide more funding for the Fire Department. A replacement levy approved July 3 by the city council would raise an additional $168,000 for the department, Mayor Paul Adamson said Wednesday.

New Franklin voters who live in the Manchester Local School District will have an additional choice. They’ll determine whether the district can build a new high school and update its facilities into the 21st century. The city is parceled into four different school districts, but about 60 percent of residents live in the Manchester district.

Supporters of both issues are adamant that the funds are necessary and would benefit city residents, but backers of each campaign are aware that having two issues on the ballot at the same time could backfire with voters.

Adamson said the fire and emergency services levy would help a frugal department keep pace with rising healthcare costs and costly maintenance on an aging building and equipment past their prime.

“We have to take some action,” Adamson said in a phone interview Wednesday. “One way or another, there is going to be a fire levy on the ballot. What we didn’t want to do is try to raise the millage.”

The replacement levy approved last week would raise extra funds by using current appraisal values of New Franklin homes, the mayor said. For the owner of a median-priced home of $121,620, it would amount to an increase of about $53 per year.

The five-year levy was adopted in 2009 and renewed in 2014.

The mayor said having two issues on the ballot at the same time is not ideal, but said both are worthy of voters’ consideration.

“I’m concerned for both levies. It’s just unfortunate timing,” he said. “[But] they’re both so critical to continuity of service and growth.”

Manchester Local Superintendent James Robinson said Wednesday that he shares the same concerns, but hopes voters see the need and choose to help.

“They need money, we need buildings,” he said.

The district pared millions of dollars from a proposal that failed by eight votes in 2016. He hopes it will be enough to convince the public.

“We’re trying to combine everything to give a footprint for the next 40 years,” Robinson said. “Our issues are not going away. We’ve cut the cost by $13 million.”

If voters approve the 8.25-mill bond issue, students will see a new high school, the old high school renovated for younger students and new athletic and fine arts facilities.

“On the football field last year, the band bleachers were so dilapidated we couldn’t use them,” Robinson said. As the district began the school year last September, some students and teachers had to go home because they were getting sick in the heat — the high school and middle schools have no air conditioning — he said.

“We hope that the community understands that this not about getting something new because someone else has something new; it’s because we need new facilities,” Robinson said.

Adamson said that if voters approve both issues, it will benefit residents by providing better services and a more attractive school system for future residents. Growth is needed to bolster the city’s income tax base, he said, and an effective fire department and schools with modern facilities are a big winner with prospective homeowners.

Robinson, too, thinks that more modern schools will be a boon.

“Our community is a great community; they really support their schools,” Robinson said. “We do pretty well, but we can do even better.”

 

Alan Ashworth can be reached at 330-996-3859 or emailed at aashworth@thebeaconjournal.com. He can be followed on Twitter at @newsalanbeaconjournal.