Tax issues, more so than candidates, will drive many Mahoning Valley residents to the polls May 6. As for property tax issues for public schools, The Vindicator continues to urge voters to seriously consider lending their support. After all, 45 school districts in the Valley remain hostage to an antiquated and dysfunctional system of state funding that has been declared unconstitutional several times over.
The Legislature’s tinkering with that system generally has brought more harm than good — including an $800 million reduction in state aid in recent years and the removal of the automatic property tax reduction for senior citizens. Making matters worse has been the accelerating exodus of more and more would-be public school students to charter and private schools, egged on by questionable financial support from the state.
VOTE FOR THESE RENEWALS
Among those school levies in Mahoning and Trumbull counties, many are renewals, for which we urge yes votes that will not increase taxes. In Mahoning County, the Boardman district is seeking renewal of a three-year 1.8-mill levy and of a five-year 2.4-mill levy. Poland schools seek a 2.9-mill renewal levy for five years. Springfield schools ask for renewal of a 1 percent income tax. In Trumbull County, these property tax renewal levies are on the ballot: Lakeview, 4-mill for five years; Liberty, 0.9-mill for five years and another 3.65-mill for five years.
As for bond issues and additional property and income tax levies, we urge district residents to seriously weigh the needs for the revenue against their own ability to pay. Districts in the Valley seeking such issues include Austintown’s 4-1 mill, 37-year bond issue to build a new Fitch High School, West Branch schools’ 0.75 percent additional income tax for five years, Howland schools’ 10-year 3.9-mill additional emergency levy, Mathews’ schools $8.8 million bond issue and Southington schools’ 4.9-mill, four-year additional property tax levy.