BOE hoping for oil and gas money

MARTINS FERRY — The Martins Ferry City School District is hoping to see some increased tax revenue from oil and gas activity.

On Thursday, a full school board heard a report from Andy Sutak, who reviewed reports from this year’s collection and the assessed values and extraction values for the school district.

“The wells are in Pease Township, but they’re coming over in Belmont County, in the school districts. They go through Jefferson County first, then we get notified what their values are,” he said, adding that he hoped for an increase in activity and collection in upcoming years.

“Next year we hope they double. Some may triple. It depends on the market,” Sutak said.

The board authorized Sutak to handle tax matters on behalf of the district with the Belmont County Auditor’s office. A retired Belmont County auditor, he has worked as an oil and gas tax consultant for the school district for several years on a supplemental contract. Superintendent Jim Fogle said afterward he did not have Sutak’s level of pay immediately at hand and could not say if this represented an increase of duties and pay.

“(Sutak’s job is) to keep us up-to-date and make sure we know what’s going on and what we have coming to us,” Fogle said. “Things look really good as far as the tax revenue that we’re going to get from gas and oil.”

Fogle said Sutak did not provide specific amounts or projections at this time.

“We don’t know at this stage, but we know it’s taking off. The wells are there. It’s just when they start producing and we start receiving royalties,” he said.

Fogle also gave an update on the state of repairs on two athletic fields that were expected to have been completed by October.

“Due to 60-plus inches of rain this year, they’re just getting completed,” Fogle said, adding that sodding could begin during the last week of March.

“We can be playing on those fields the week of April 15 through April 19. Promising, but we’ve got to hope Mother Nature smiles on us.”

Fogle added that they have had to utilize the athletic fields in Bridgeport School District, and the Ayers Elementary field for softball.

Also, Suto suggested replacing the exterior locks on the school buildings with new ones. He said the current locks are close to 10 years old. The board approved the suggestion, and the district will look into prices and a schedule for replacing the present locks.

The district also received a grant of $5,000 from the J.B. Green Team. It will be used to purchase benches made of recycled material, to be placed at the track and ball fields.

Fogle also noted that the district’s middle school student won the Belmont County Scholastic Challenge this week for the fourth year in a row. The event was held at Belmont College.

The board also accepted the resignation of Kim Appolloni as the athletic director, effective May 31. She will continue to work as a computer science teacher. Fogle noted she has worked at the school for more than 20 years.

“We want to thank her for all that she’s done for our student athletes, our coaches and our families and all of our sports programs,” he said. The district has not yet begun looking for replacements.

The board went into two executive sessions, totaling around an hour, related to the employment of two different individuals. No decisions were made as a result.

The full board of Brian McFarland, Dorothy Powell, Scott Ballint, Bill Suto, and Nick Stankovich was present.