Voters in the Evergreen school district will have the opportunity Nov. 7 to vote for a reduced five-year income tax renewal that will save them approximately half a million dollars.
A modest increase in state funding this fiscal year, and additional revenue from the Current Agricultural Use Value (CAUV), will allow the school district to reduce the ongoing 0.5 percent income tax levy to 0.25 percent for the next five years. A resolution to place the proposed income tax renewal on the fall ballot was approved by the Board of Education at its June meeting.
“We have a fairly positive five-year forecast, and we have a healthy cash balance,” Treasurer Denise Leu said.
She said the school district received a couple of thousand dollars more than anticipated in state funding for Fiscal Year 2017, and also received increased funds in 2016. That, combined with additional real estate tax revenue from an increase in CAUV the past few years, has created a healthier financial state than the district has seen in several years.
“Based on the current level of state funding, the Board of Education decided to give money back to our local taxpayers,” Superintendent Jim Wyse said. “Hopefully, this level of funding will continue or increase. (However), we can’t depend on the state to maintain what they’re doing now.”
In the past, the school district has been able to roll back the amount of bond millage. But this is the first time during Wyse’s tenure as superintendent that an income tax levy reduction has been possible.
Should the income tax renewal fail, though, the school district would lose approximately $1 million annually. He said the Evergreen community’s property tax already may be the lowest in the area, “so we rely on the income tax. Over a period of time that would hurt us. I wouldn’t even want to speculate on any of that at this time.”
As the November election nears the school district will probably make efforts to educate the public on the proposed income tax reduction, Wyse said.
Leu said between 2014-15 state funding for Evergreen schools showed no gains or losses. However, like many of Ohio’s over 600 school districts, state cutbacks between 2010-12 left some local districts including Evergreen cash-strapped.
Leu said state cuts are anticipated for Fiscal Year 2018; a financial simulation for the district forecasts a $114,000 decrease. “We never know what we can count on with state funding,” she said.
And she believes there will be an adjustment in CAUV that would pare more off the district’s budget.
But Evergreen schools are financially ample now, and they would like to give back to taxpayers while it’s possible.
We felt we could get by reducing it and give the taxpayers a break,” Leu said.
Reach David J. Coehrs at 419-335-2010.