Three speakers at last Friday’s Sunbury/Big Walnut Area Chamber of Commerce Candidates Breakfast addressed issues that will appear on the November 8 General Election Ballot.
Speaking for the Big Walnut Local School District’s $133.9 million, 8.3-mil bond issue was Steve Volpe, a former program manager for Columbus schools and a member of Big Walnut’s Facilities Committee.
Volpe said people understand that if the bond issue is successful at the polls their property taxes will increase, causing them to ask: Why build more schools?
“Delaware County is the fastest-growing county in Ohio, and one of the fastest-growing counties in the country,” Volpe said. “Big Walnut’s student population is increasing, and people tend to move into a school district when their children are little. Last year’s graduating class was 211, the district’s current Kindergarten through eighth grades average 32 percent larger, and the existing high school will not take classes that size.”
Volpe said if Big Walnut does nothing, the district would need to install 67 modular classrooms over the next decade to manage the growth in student population.
“That would be a waste of money, and the modular trailers would have to be put in and then eventually taken out,” Volpe said. “This option is dirt cheap, money is on sale right now, and Big Walnut would still have the second-lowest millage in Delaware County. There’s simply no reason to wait.”
Steve Hedge spoke about the Delaware-Morrow Mental Health & Recovery Services Board’s 1-mil, 5-year renewal levy.
“Mental health issues and addiction issues impact everyone,” Hedge said. “Addiction starts with pain pills and accelerates to opiates. Last year there were 18 suicides in Delaware County, but because of the stigma that’s something you don’t see in the newspaper.”
Hedge said the Mental Health & Recovery Services Board works with eight service providers, as well as area law-enforcement and Delaware County EMS.
“Our focus is on getting folks into treatment and drug free,” Hedge said. “We served over 4,000 individuals last year and 1,000 families. With proper treatment and support people can recover.”
Hedge added that the Delaware-Morrow Mental Health & Recovery Services Board’s 1-mil levy is 84 percent of the board’s budget. It’s not new money, he said, the levy has remained at 1-mil since 1986.
BST&G Fire Chief Jeff Wilson is chair of the countywide 911-levy committee. The levy includes a 0.45-mil renewal and a 0.18-mil increase for a total of 0.63-mils.
“When you make that 911 call, you expect someone to be on the way,” Chief Wilson said. “This would be $6.38 added to your taxes per $100,000 of valuation. For that you get an elite 911 response that’s the best in the State of Ohio.”
Reporter Lenny C. Lepola can be reached at 614-266-6093.