A proposed five-year, 2% earned income tax levy for Wauseon schools went down in defeat on Tuesday, forecasting a grim future for the school district.
Voters rejected the levy, estimated to generate a total of $20 million over five years, by a vote of 1,237-874, a percentage of 58.6%-41.4%.
The levy, which would have taken effect Jan. 1, 2022, would have been portioned at 1.75% for operations and .25% for permanent improvements. It would have been used as a preventative plan to offset the school district’s financial difficulties.
According to the plan, funding would have been used, in part, to retain six teachers for kindergarten through fifth grade, the addition of high school electives, and the construction of an on-site bus garage.
Before the election, it was said if it fails, student busing will be severely curtailed, district personnel will be reduced, and all student extracurricular activities including sports could be eliminated.
The earned income tax levy would not have affected pensioned and unemployed senior citizens, workers’ compensation, farmers renting property or unemployment benefits.
Superintendent Troy Armstrong on Thursday read a statement which began, “…I’m saddened by the defeat of the 2% earned income tax levy.”
Armstrong said the public “was informed in great detail” about the levy through print and social media, radio spots, mailings, and community meetings he said were poorly attended.
“The consequences of this failure will be monumental,” he said. “Every employee of this great district works hard every day, focused on teaching and learning.”
He said the school district is proven to be financially responsible each year by a fiscal audit through the state auditor’s office. “To think differently is an opinion without factual evidence,” Armstrong said.
He said the earned income tax levy will return to ballot in May for a second chance, “and I welcome community assistance with a plan to get this tax passed for the future of our students, who are our number one priority.”
It appears the Swanton Local Schools 3.4-mill substitute levy for necessary requirements also did not pass. It was given the nod in Fulton County by a vote of 649-514, but in Lucas County, there were 309 votes against and 171 votes for.
So, the final unofficial tally is 823 votes against and 820 for the levy. It is close enough that the final official count could change the outcome.
The levy would have replaced a current emergency levy that generates $825,000 per year. Superintendent Chris Lake said before the election that if it does not pass it would need to be put back on the ballot.
Pettisville Local Schools passed their 2.5-mill additional permanent improvement levy, 290-224, or 56.42%-43.58%.
The five-year, 2.5-mill levy that will generate approximately $158,000 annually. Superintendent Josh Clark said, other than using some the funds for parking lot repairs and to upgrade some outdated building systems, the remainder will purchase new textbooks – to replace some from 27 years ago – and new technology for students.