Thursday, October 18, 2001

Goshen schools fight repeal bid

Income tax provides $2M to help operate district

By Sue Kiesewetter
Enquirer Contributor

        GOSHEN TOWNSHIP — Six years after getting out of the state loan fund, Goshen Local Schools officials say they will face another financial crisis if votersapprove a repeal of a 1 percent income tax on Nov. 6.

        "We're well aware where we came from and where we are now,” said Superintendent Charlene Thomas. “Those were not good times. If this tax were repealed, it would be a tremendous step backwards.”

        The tax is expected to generate about $2 million this year, or 12 percent of this Clermont County district's operating budget, said treasurer Todd Shinkle. The tax was approved in 1990, just a year after the district obtained the first of several state backed loans.

        "We're fighting it. The school district needs the 1 percent tax,” said Sue Steele, president of the Board of Education. "Our head is finally above water.”

        Opponents of the tax say they are not against the schools, but believe it places an unfair burden on property owners who already pay real estate taxes to the schools as well as the income tax.

        "We've paid the tax for 10 years,” said Lynn Raitz, president of the Goshen Township Property Owners Association, the group that collected petitions to put the issue on the ballot. "It's time to bring it before voters and let them decide to continue it or not. We've gotten out of debt and we're headed into difficult economic times. People can't afford it.”

        Those in the Goshen school district already pay the lowest property taxes in Clermont County, despite having no industry and a low business tax base, Ms. Thomas said. The district ranks eighth in its per student spending out of Clermont County's nine districts. Without the income tax, they would drop to the lowest in the county.

        Ms. Thomas disagrees with the belief that property owners are harmed by the income tax. Because those who rent also pay the income tax — but don't pay property taxes — it is a fairer tax, Ms. Thomas said.

        The income tax is used to pay for daily expenses including electricity, which cost $40,000 per month last winter; telephone service, which runs $3,000-$4,000 monthly, Ms. Thomas said. The district pays the Clermont County Educational Service Center $64,757 monthly for special education, psychology, counseling, media centers, therapy and other services.

        In the last few years, the district has made progress in lowering average class size to 20 or fewer in primary grades, upgrading technology, and moving from academic emergency to the expected continuous improvement on the 2002 report card in two years.

        This weekend, members of Support Our Schools willdistribute materials and urge residents to vote no on the repeal.


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