Fairborn schools seek second tax to pay for growing high school costs



FAIRBORN — Voters in the Fairborn City School District can expect to see a $24.6 million bond issue on their ballots in the May election.

The Fairborn Board of Education voted Thursday night to put a 1.7-mill, 34-year bond issue on the May 2 ballot to fund the completion of construction of the new high school, restoring projects that were cut due to rising costs.

“With inflation we have had to make serious decisions impacting the total completion of the project. We want to be able to finish the project in total,” Fairborn school board President Jerry Browning said in a release on the vote. “Our community has been very supportive of our building projects, and it is our hope that they will continue so that we can finish the high school project completely.”

The new high school under construction on Commerce Center Boulevard — once estimated to cost $70 million — is now projected at $82 million, officials have said.

“We have worked hard to keep all costs within the budget,” Superintendent Gene Lolli said in the release. “With inflation on everything from roofing supplies to flooring supplies, the costs were much higher than anticipated.

Lolli said the May 2023 bond issue “will not be an additional tax for residents but a replacement of what they are already paying.” Fairborn Schools Treasurer Kevin Philo earlier said that’s because collection of funds triggered by this vote wouldn’t start until January 2027, when a separate long-term tax issue expires, keeping the future tax rate the same.

But the proposed tax measure would still be “an additional levy,” Greene County Auditor David Graham has said. Graham noted earlier that “what might have been tax savings to the property owners (with the expiration of one tax) is being offset with a tax increase.”

Voters approved a 5.83-mill bond issue in 2020 to pay for the new high school, arts center and athletics complex in conjunction with the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission funding.

However, rising costs prompted the district to delay some planned improvements — softball fields, baseball fields and tennis courts among them, district officials have said.

This is the latest step in a long facilities process. Voters approved a different tax in 2016, which funded construction of a new Fairborn Primary School that opened in 2020, and a new Fairborn Intermediate School that opened in 2022.

“The community has been impressed with the completion of the two elementary schools as promised within the timeline and budget,” Lolli said.

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