Wauseon City Council on Monday received a heads-up from the city’s school superintendent and district treasurer on a 2% earned income tax levy scheduled for the Nov. 2 ballot.
The five-year levy is estimated to generate $20 million over its lifetime – 1.75% for current operating expenses and .25% for permanent improvements. The levy would take effect on Jan 1, 2022.
Because the school district is forecast for $1.1 million in deficit spending in Fiscal Year 2023, the earned income tax levy has been proposed as a preventative plan to help reverse the district’s financial woes. It would also allow six teachers to be retained for kindergarten through fifth grade, add high school electives, and construct an on-site bus garage. The school district is currently storing buses in a city-owned property.
The earned income tax would not affect pensioned and unemployed senior citizens, workers’ compensation, farmers renting property or unemployment benefits.
During a protracted discussion, Armstrong told Council members the school district has not asked for new money since 2011. Despite that, he said, federal dollars for schools continue to decrease each year, but with the state expecting the same level of service.
“Ten years later, you still have the same expectations from the state,” Armstrong said.
He noted the school district’s aging facilities and school buses, and cuts made over the last few years to maintain the district’s narrowing budget. They include not filling vacated positions through attrition.
Armstrong said if the earned income tax levy fails it will mean cutting 25 district employees, minimizing transportation to serve only students living two miles or more from their school buildings, and cutting athletics and extracurricular activities.
When Councilor Steve Schneider said residents within the school district are alarmed by a 2% levy, Fleming conceded, “It is a high percentage. We’re not trying to hide that fact at all.”
He said concerned citizens can tap into the school district’s website to view a power presentation that answers the complicated questions they’re asking.
In department reports, Public Service Director Keith Torbet reported he participated in leadership training at the Ohio Public Service Institute held by the American Public Works Association.
Torbet said a public meeting regarding a Burnell Street improvement project will be held Monday, Oct. 18, at 4 p.m. in council chambers on the second floor of 230 Clinton St.
He also reported that the department is working on several projects including a storm sewer addition on Glenwood Avenue.
In legislation, Council members approved: emergency passage of a resolution authorizing the mayor to enter into agreements with Fulton County for emergency medical and ambulance services; the first reading of a resolution accepting amounts and rates as determined by the city’s Budget Commission, and authorizing necessary tax levies, to be certified by the Fulton County auditor; and second readings on ordinances authorizing annexation of property to the city.
Reach David J. Coehrs at 419-335-2010.