ELIDA — An administrator with Elida schools announced Monday an “agreement in principal” has been reached between the school district and the Village of Elida over an annexation dispute that was the subject of a pending lawsuit. The agreement, Superintendent Joel Mengerink said in a prepared statement, negates the need for a hearing scheduled for Thursday in Allen County Common Pleas Court.
An official with the village declined to comment Monday surrounding the status of any such resolution.
A civil lawsuit was filed Dec. 3 by the school board against the village, former Mayor Kim Hardy and Village Administrator Dave Metzger to determine if the village was properly following a 2018 ordinance in its attempt to force the school to annex its under-construction elementary school to the village in exchange for municipal water and sewage service. The school sought an injunction to force the village to abandon its attempt to force the annexation.
In his statement released Monday, Mengerink said both parties have “been able to put our differences aside and have come to a resolution in which both parties can walk away satisfied.” He added that as part of that agreement the school district will dismiss its lawsuit against the village.
Elida Village Administrator Dave Metzger said village officials “will have no statement as of now” on the reported settlement.
“Over the course of the last four or five weeks, under the direction of the new administration of Mayor Claude Paxton, a line of communication has been opened that did not previously exist,” Mengerink said. “The board of education, administration and staff of Elida schools appreciate the hard work from the village, its current administration and council members in reaching this conclusion.
“While the timing of this agreement and the beginning of construction of the new elementary school, which will begin in a few short weeks, may make it look as if things were not progressing due to this dispute, unequivocally that was not the case,” Mengerink continued. “Our fall of 2019 newsletter stated that an early site package would be completed during the fall and what most people see as construction would start in March. That is still the case. The board will be approving/awarding bids in the next week and construction will begin in March. Our timeline is on track and we are excited to open the new elementary school building in September of 2021.”
An underlying issue in the dispute is the village’s .75% income tax, which staff at the new elementary school would have to pay if the property was to be annexed into the village. Mengerink in November described the annexation requirement as an “overstep” on the part of village officials.
The superintendent, who was not available for comment Monday afternoon, made no mention in his statement of the status of the school property’s annexation or the village’s agreement to provide utility services to the new school building.