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Woodridge school levy fails; Triway passes income tax

By admin Published: March 8, 2012

Woodridge was the only district in Summit County asking for new money, and it narrowly failed.

The 6.83-mill levy had been expected to bring in about $3 million a year. It would have cost the owner of a $100,000 home, who now pays about $1,100 a year for school taxes, an additional $193 a 17 percent increase.

Without the new operating money, the district might have to eliminate busing to the high school and for any younger students who live within two miles of school. The board also is considering several options, including pay-to-participate fees for sports and closing school buildings for public use after hours. Woodridge passed a new property tax in 2004 that was designed to last five years. The district squeezed two more years out of that tax, largely with help from federal stimulus money that won't be renewed.

Woodridge was one of a dozen area districts with issues on the ballot.

The Triway school district in Wayne County, which was one of three trying to renew or pass an earned income tax, easily passed its 0.75 percent earned income tax Tuesday.

The tax applies to salaries, but not retirement or unemployment benefits, which favors seniors and the unemployed. It doesn't tax dividends or capital gains, and it also spares farmers and other owners of large tracts of land from increased property taxes.

But the tax dramatically increases the contribution of working residents to the schools, according to a Beacon Journal analysis.

Triway's new tax will increase school taxes for the owner of a $100,000 home making $50,000 a year by 57 percent.

That homeowner will continue to pay $841 for school taxes, but the 0.75 percent earned income tax applied to a $50,000 income will add $375 to the bill for schools.

The Chippewa school district, also in Wayne County, was one of the first in the state to pass an earned income tax five years ago. Voters originally approved a 1 percent tax in 2007, two years after the state Legislature allowed school districts to enact wage-only income taxes that didn't bite into pensions, dividends and income from interest. Chippewa passed its renewal.

Buckeye, in Medina County, was seeking a new 1 percent earned income tax after 10 consecutive failures to pass a property tax. The district hasn't approved new money for operations since 1994.

The owner of a $100,000 home who makes $50,000 a year would pay an additional $500 in earned income tax, a 63 percent increase in total taxes for Buckeye schools. Results weren't available by press time, but if Buckeye fails again, it probably would declare fiscal emergency early next year, start borrowing money from the state and submit to state control of its finances.

Final results were not available for all other school issues by press time.

Waterloo and Field both failed again to pass new, permanent tax increases.

Field's levy would have cost the owner of a $100,000 home an additional $214 a year, based on 2010 tax rates, and $243 in Waterloo. The Portage County TEA Party opposed passage of both levies.

Field hasn't passed a levy for new money since 1991.

Waterloo teachers agreed to freeze their base pay and to forgo scheduled salary increases last year as part of an overall package of savings that trimmed $1 million a tenth of its budget. The teachers also agreed to higher deductibles for health insurance and higher prescription co-payments.

The district will need to cut $400,000 by the beginning of the next school year without new revenue.

John Higgins can be reached at 330-996-3792 or jhiggins@thebeaconjournal.com.

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