Community members went out on Saturday to canvas in support of the Washington Court House City Schools (WCHCS) levy that is on the ballot for the general election.
The levy is for a 1 percent, seven-year income tax for Washington Court House City Schools. According to officials, if passed, this levy will be the first one to bring in revenue for the schools in 28 years.
Those canvasing handed out informational pages, assisted in answering questions to the best of their capabilities and assisted with registering community members to vote.
The informational page handed out had several details, including what income would not be taxed.
According to the information, which was gathered by WCHCS Director of Marketing and Communications Trevor Patton, income not to be taxed includes social security benefits, disability and survivor benefits, railroad retirement benefits, welfare benefits, child support, property received as a gift, property received as a bequest or inheritance and workers’ compensation benefits.
Income that will be taxed includes wages, salaries, tips, interest, dividends, unemployment compensation, self-employment to the extent included in OAGI, taxable scholarships and fellowships, pensions, annuities, IRA distributions, capital gains, state and local bond interest (except for interest paid by Ohio government), federal bond interest exempt from federal tax but subject to state tax, alimony received, as well as all other sources of income.
Patton explained during the initial meeting with canvasing volunteers that a property tax is not being utilized as WCHCS is located within a poor property area. In order to receive the same funding through a 1 percent income tax levy, a nine-mill property tax levy would have to be used.
One of the concerns Patton addressed on the paper involved the recent increase of property taxes. Although taxes have increased after a county assessment was completed, schools in Ohio do not receive increased amounts from those property reevaluations due to House Bill 920.
Many have questioned why the school needs a levy now after going 28 years without one.
Patton explained during the meeting and on the page that the schools have made various cuts and have “penny-pinched” as much as possible, however its five-year forecast shows for the 2019-2020 school year that the school district will be operating at a deficit.
The levy is for operating expenses such as staff salaries, utilities, supplies, etc.
The levy on the ballot will not pay for construction, will not pay for a new turf, will not pay for a new football field and will not pay for an auditorium, according to Patton.
Although the current school buildings are newer and more energy-efficient, they are approximately 10 years old now, and major appliances along with other items are needing repaired or replaced.
Patton explained there was a recent $20,000 replacement of a 300 gallon water hold tank in the high school that had failed, within the past two years the Liberty Hall HVAC system needed repairs that cost approximately $25,000, and in the past five years an approximate $38,000 has been spent on roof repair.
Another issue with failing equipment includes the many security cameras installed across the district that no longer work and have not been replaced. The cameras have not been replaced as they cannot be afforded, according to Patton.
Volunteers who canvased were given a paper to help explain the costs of the levy to community members.
For the median household income in Washington C.H., which is approximately $40,479 per year, 1 percent would be about $404.79 per year. In other words, $1.11 per day — which Patton compared to a small cup of coffee that costs $2.15 at the Washington C.H. Starbucks.
According to the list, those who make $30,000 would pay approximately 82 cents per day and those who make $20,000 would pay approximately 55 cents per day.
Household incomes of $50,000 would pay approximately $1.37 per day, of $60,000 would pay approximately $1.92 per day, of $70,000 would pay approximately $1.92 per day, of $80,000 would pay approximately $2.19 per day, of $90,000 would pay approximately $2.47 per day and of $100,000 would pay approximately $2.74 per day.
Those who live within the district of WCHCS would be paying the tax if the levy passes.
Many officials have warned that if the levy is not passed, there will be cuts to several programs including academics, athletics, arts, transportation and activities in order to continue being “extremely fiscally conservative as it has for almost three decades.”
Those who have questions that have not been answered yet can call 740-335-6620 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reach Jennifer Woods at 740-313-0355 or on Twitter @JennMWoods.