West Branch won’t have special election for school tax

By David Skolnick



After a crushing defeat in Tuesday’s election, the West Branch Board of Education decided not to put a 0.75 percent income tax back on the ballot in February.

Wednesday, the day after the general election, was the deadline to file to get issues on the Feb. 4 special-election ballot. No community or school district in the Mahoning Valley opted to file by the deadline to get on that ballot.

The West Branch school board met Wednesday to consider putting the tax back in front of voters. That came a day after the new income-tax proposal was soundly rejected by voters, receiving support from only 23 percent of those who cast ballots in the recent election.

“By taking the action that they took [Wednesday], the school board has given themselves more time to meet and talk with voters before placing the same basic issue on the ballot in February of 2014,” said Scott Weingart, West Branch’s superintendent of schools. “The result of the election made it clear that our voters need more time and more information before they will approve additional school funding for West Branch.”

The board will consider putting the issue on the ballot sometime next year, he said.

“If we are to continue to offer the same level of service to our students and our community, then we will need additional revenue,” Weingart said.

“There are really only two options for school boards when a school district’s revenues are cut,” he said. “School boards can seek additional revenue from local residents or they can reduce services and programs for students. The need is real and it is not going away.”

But before putting a tax on the ballot again, the board wants to talk about it further with voters, Weingart said.

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