More districts seek income tax for additional way to get money

Trumbull County has nine school issues on the ballot Nov. 7.
COLUMBUS (AP) -- More Ohio school districts are turning to earned income tax levies as a way to raise money instead of relying on property taxes, school leaders said.
Statewide, there are 206 school issues on the Nov. 7 ballot, with 18 districts asking voters to approve earned income tax issues, according to the Ohio Department of Education. Those levies involve taxing wages, as opposed to other income such as interest.
Districts have been allowed to use income tax levies for years but were first given the option of taxing only earned income last year. Supporters call it a fairer levy that doesn't burden seniors or those not working.
"We're not asking people who don't have an income to contribute any more," said Libbie Anatra, treasurer of Colonel Crawford Local Schools in North Robinson, located about 56 miles north of Columbus.
The district has a five-year, 1.5 percent earned income tax issue on the ballot. It would raise about 1.2 million when it's fully phased in, Anatra said.
Funding problem remains
School funding remains a problem for Ohio school districts. The Ohio Supreme Court has repeatedly ruled, most recently in 2003, that the state's school-funding system unconstitutionally relies too much on local property taxes.
Districts also are starting to move away from property tax levies partly because the state is phasing out the business tax on tangible personal property, school officials said. Tangible personal property is a property tax placed on physical property used in the operation of a manufacturing or service-based business.
Some districts have as much as 30 percent of their tax money coming from tangible personal property, said Tom Ash, director of governmental relations at the Buckeye Association of School Administrators.
There are a total of 36 income tax-related levies on the November ballot. In May, 17 of 35 income taxes levies were approved by voters.
Seeking levies
Overall, 187 districts are seeking levies this November -- Cuyahoga County in northern Ohio leads the state with 11. Trumbull and Summit counties in Northeast Ohio have nine and eight, respectively.
Ten districts have two issues on the ballot. Lake Local, located in Stark County, has 10 issues -- all are seeking a minor property tax reduction.

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