If Urbana City Schools purchases a 68.9-acre piece of property for its new pre-kindergarten to eighth grade building and does not seek annexation into the city of Urbana, the city may see an estimated $55,000 annual income tax hit.
The city of Urbana has a 1.4 percent earned income tax for city residents and those who work in the city limits, Urbana Director of Administration Kerry Brugger said. Those who both live and work in the city are not taxed twice.
District Treasurer Mandy Hildebrand estimated the potential tax loss based on payroll numbers from the May 20 pay period. She pulled out staff who work in the kindergarten to eighth grade who do not live in the city limits, estimating an annual tax loss to the city of $55,942.80 that could occur if the district purchases the property but does not annex it into the city.
Hildebrand focused on those specific grade levels because they would be the staff working at the new elementary/middle school building if the property is purchased and not annexed.
Hildebrand said her numbers were just estimates, as she may have missed a couple of staff members who may live outside the city limits.
The school district sent $140,249.82 to the city of Urbana Income Tax department in 2015, from all employees in the district, according to the district’s end of year W2 report, Hildebrand said.
The school district is considering purchasing the 68.9-acre property off South U.S. Route 68 between the Vintage Drive Thru and Campground Road. The school board authorized the purchase in May, if the property fits the district’s needs. District officials are working with contractors to conduct site surveys, geotechnical work and other investigation before finalizing a sale.
The district sought a new location for the elementary/middle school building due to difficulties associated with the originally proposed location off Community Drive. The Community Drive property is next door to the city’s former landfill, which may have methane gas migration across property lines. The school district would need to move the school building farther away from the property line to be safe to build on the site. The school district also has issues with city requests to build Washington Avenue as a secondary access road on the Community Drive property.
Property being investigated
The school district continues to investigate the U.S. Route 68 property, Superintendent Charles Thiel said Thursday. A “Phase I Environmental Site Assessment” has been completed, indicating radon may be a concern in the area, especially if there is a basement under the new structure. Thiel said this does not give him any “cause for alarm,” noting radon is a concern throughout the community, and the building will be constructed on a slab on a grade.
“The plans also call for a system that would allow radon underneath the slab to escape through a vent pipe,” he said. “If necessary, this system could include a fan-powered ventilation system.”
The report also indicated a wetlands area on the middle of the site next to the road, Thiel said.
“I believe it is recommended that no construction take place within 50 feet of the wetlands area. This requirement will not impact our site design,” he said.
Thiel said the school district is waiting for the geotechnical report from the site borings.
The district has a meeting next week with the city and the Ohio Department of Transportation to discuss “jurisdictional issues” along Route 68, traffic study requirements and initial planning for site design, he said. Thiel added the district also plans to schedule a meeting with the city and Urbana Township to review the annexation process.
The district has until early August to close on the property. Thiel said it is possible the process could be completed by the end of July.
Casey S. Elliott may be reached at 937-652-1331 ext. 1772 or on Twitter @UDCElliott.