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Pettisville School Board Commits To Income Tax Hike

The Pettisville School Board has committed to placing an additional 1% income tax before voters; it’s just a question of when.

In a special meeting, Monday, Nov. 28, the board passed a resolution of intent to seek an additional 1% income tax for operating expenses. The resolution specifi es the tax would be on a continuing basis rather than for a limited term.

Voters in the Pettisville School District could face the income tax levy question in March or June.

If the State of Ohio goes through with the plan to hold two primary elections in 2012, the school board will postpone putting the income tax levy on the ballot until the June primary.

The two-primary plan is made necessary as Democrats and Republicans in the Ohio legislature wrangle over the issue of drawing new districts for the Ohio members of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Steve Switzer, district superintendent, said there is still a small chance the state could settle the redistricting issue, making the two primaries unnecessary, but the window to do so is tiny.

Kandice Lemley, director of the Fulton County Board of Elections, said state offi- cials were scheduled to discuss the redistricting and two-primary issues today, Wednesday.

State officials would need to cancel the June primary by Dec. 7 to allow candidates the required time to file paperwork needed to run for office in March rather than June.

While Switzer said that seems unlikely, the Pettisville board scheduled a special meeting for Dec. 7 in case it needs to vote to place the tax levy on the March ballot rather than waiting until June.

All board members expressed a preference to wait until the June ballot to allow more time to gather information and educate voters about the district’s need.

Income Vs. Property

The income tax was chosen over an additional property tax levy because taxpayers in the district are still paying on the 7.85-mill levy that was passed to provide the local share needed to build the new school facility that opened this fall.

The need for the levy is based on the five-year fi- nancial projection for the district, which shows the district operating in the red this fiscal year. The projection estimates the district’s cash balance will run out during Fiscal Year 2015.

The current income tax is 1%. It is projected to yield $415,000 this year.

The additional tax would mean Pettisville would be one of only a few districts in the state to have a 2% income tax.

The board considered seeking a 3/4% income tax, but looking at the projection, it concluded that would not meet the district’s need.

Even if the new levy passes, the district will still need to “be diligent and find ways to stretch our funds,” said John King, board president.

Board members questioned the need for more operating money. They concluded that it was primarily due to decreases in state funding and the elimination of taxes on business. No Wage, Income Growth

The five-year projection is conservative in projection of revenues, showing no growth in the income tax collection for the district and predicting wages and income for area residents will be flat for the next five years.

When predicting the expenses, the five-year plan calls for an average of 2.7% annual growth over the five years.

“If we wait until June to put the levy on the ballot, that will give us a full year in the new building,” said King. “We will have more information about our operating costs, and our budget will be clearer.”

The special meeting scheduled for Dec. 7 will be canceled if the legislature does not resolve the differences that will require the June primary to be held. The board would then meet next for its regular December meeting scheduled for Dec. 12, 7 p.m., in the conference room of the new school.–D.J. Neuenschwander

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