Thursday, November 20, 2003

Loveland drops tax plan for levy



By Michael D. Clark
The Cincinnati Enquirer

LOVELAND - After residents said they oppose an income tax for schools, Loveland officials decided to stick with more traditional school property tax funding and will combine a replacement levy and a new tax issue on the ballot in March.

Loveland school officials earlier this month conducted a phone survey of residents to gauge support for a 1 percent school income tax to replace a 7-mill levy that expires Jan. 1, 2005.

Loveland Superintendent Kevin Boys told the Board of Education Tuesday evening that about 63 percent of the 305 residents questioned said they were against such an income tax. Another 13.9 percent indicated they would probably be against such tax issue.

The survey results prompted Boys and the board Tuesday to ask the county auditor to certify a 7-mill replacement levy and a new 5-mill permanent improvement school levy as a preliminary step to combining the two revenue issues into a single issue on the March ballot.

Board members are scheduled to vote Dec. 4 to put the combined issue on the ballot.

"We wanted to test the viability of an income tax," Boys said of the survey, adding that "right now, it's not an option."

Boys said the district, which has earned the State Report Card's top rating of "excellent" for the last two years while its student enrollment of 4,200 students has nearly doubled since 1990, needs to replace the 7-mill property tax "to fund our schools for the next four years."

Moreover, Boys said, the 5-mill permanent improvement levy is needed for repairs and renovations in the district's six school buildings.

The current 7-mill levy costs the owner of a $100,000 home $205 annually. If a new 7-mill levy is approved in March it will cost the same homeowner $245 annually.

The other part of the ballot issue - the proposed 5-mill permanent improvement levy - would cost the same homeowner $175 annually, adding up to a total school property tax increase of $187 (after an automatic state rollback percentage is applied).

E-mail mclark@enquirer.com




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