By a vote of 1,960 opposed and 1,554 in favor, the Washington Court House City Schools’ 1-percent earned income tax levy failed during Tuesday’s general election, according to unofficial results from the Fayette County Board of Elections.
The Washington Court House City Schools Board of Education asked for a 1-percent earned income tax levy. The levy would have only impacted employees who live in the district and was to be a tax on the residents of the Washington Court House City Schools’ district boundaries who earn a wage.
“Obviously it is disappointing that it didn’t pass,” WCHCS Superintendent Tom Bailey said on Tuesday evening following the release of the results. “We are operating on the same money from our taxpayer base in Washington Court House as we were in 1991 and have not asked for an increase since then. We will get back to work tomorrow educating the kids, that is what we are here for. This doesn’t change that we still have an important job to do, so we will keep at it tomorrow morning.”
The decision to land on a levy based on wages earned came from a number of factors. The first — and probably the biggest reason — was the amount of property available for evaluation.
According to Bailey, out of the 610 school districts, WCHCS is 564th in terms of assessed evaluation per student for property taxes. Due to this property evaluation, it made the option of a property tax levy much more difficult, as any levy that passed would be worth considerably less than what they would need. Bailey said they would have needed roughly 8.67 mills on a levy for property evaluation if they chose that route, rather than the option they opted for. The 1-percent of wages would have generated around $1.7 million per year.
The superintendent said the board had discussed other plans for the levy as well. One issue they have continued to share with the community during board meetings is deficit spending guaranteed to come in the next year. This levy would have helped to alleviate this spending and improve the overall stability of the future of the district financially, according to Bailey.
“I will be working directly with the Washington Court House Board of Education to decide next steps,” Bailey said. “We are going into deficit spending next year, as I showed in my community meeting. So we will have to either go back on the ballot or we will have to make cuts next year, one or the other, there is no other option.”
Finally, Bailey said with this levy they were going to look at how they pay their teachers. Currently, the highest experienced teachers in the district are ranked around the third or fourth best. He said it wouldn’t make sense to be number one, as the sheer amount of money it would take is a large hurdle, but he was confident this levy would have helped to return their numbers to the top 25 percent of the region for all of their teachers and retain them for years to come.
Reach Martin Graham at (740) 313-0351 or on Twitter @MartiTheNewsGuy.