Wednesday, September 20, 2000

Little Miami to ask for tax

Income option may end levies

By Jennifer Mrozowski
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        MORROW — To entice voters to pass a 0.75 percent districtwide income tax in November, the Little Miami School Board is offering voters a deal.

        The board said Tuesday night it will reduce by half the collection of a $930,000 emergency operating levy in that levy's final year, and it will not ask for renewal of the levy after it expires, said interim Superintendent Ralph Shell.

        The emergency operating levy expires in December 2002.

        If the district does not pass the income tax proposal, the school board will ask for a renewal of the operating levy in 2002 as well as a levy increase, Mr. Shell said. Or the board may try again for an income tax, he said.

        “It's either going to be one or the other,” he said. “With that levy expiring at the end of 2002 and without additional operating funds, we'll have a financial crisis by the end of 2002.”

        Operating levies are needed to pay costs to run schools.

        Little Miami is opting for the income tax proposal to find another way to fund schools. The practice of going to the voters every few years asking them to pass operating levies is not ideal, Mr. Shell said.

        First, the levies are not based on inflation, meaning that once a levy passes, the district gets the same amount every year until a new levy is passed, he said. Secondly, voters don't like being asked for money every few years, Mr. Shell said.

        “It's been difficult here to pass property tax levies,” he said.

        The income tax, on the other hand, would be based on incomes of people in the district, which generally rise with inflation. The 0.75 percent income tax would generate about $2.3 million a year in revenue.

        If the income tax proposal passes and the operating levy expires, the district would receive an additional $1.4 million in annual tax revenue a year, Mr. Shell said.

        Income that would not be taxed includes Social Security benefits; disability and survivor's benefits; railroad and retirement benefits; welfare benefits; child support; property received as a gift, bequest or inheritance; and workers' compensation.

        The income tax would not apply to people who work in the district but live elsewhere. But it would apply to renters, unlike property tax levies.


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