West Branch schools seek 0.5 percent, 5-year additional earned income tax


0.5% increase would not affect real-estate taxes

By Amanda Tonoli

atonoli@vindy.com

BELOIT

West Branch community voters will decide in the May primary election whether to approve a 0.5 percent, 5-year additional earned-income tax for West Branch Local Schools.

An earned-income tax does not affect real-estate taxes within the district.

The earned-income tax would generate $850,000 annually.

With the annual median household income in Mahoning County of $43,251, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, the tax will equate to about $216.26 annually.

West Branch schools officials said the levy is needed because of deficit spending.

“We’re spending more than we have coming in,” Superintendent Tim Saxton explained. “We have made cuts over the last several years to personnel and to programs to reduce our overall spending.”

Now the schools are struggling to maintain or keep programming the same, Saxton said.

“We want to keep staffing the same and stop making cuts and even things out,” he said. “We also want to restore our busing situation cut in January.”

In January, the district cut busing to high-school students and those within a 2-mile radius of their school.

The cut resulted in a $200,000 to $300,000 savings.

“That has provided us some relief in the budget but has caused disharmony in the district, and we’re aware of that,” Saxton said. “The board would like to restore that [bussing] with the passage of this levy at the beginning of next year.”

Saxton said the earned-income tax ultimately will provide the additional revenue the district needs.

“There are only two ways to address our financial situation: obtain new operating funds or reduce expenses,” Saxton said. “We have reduced expenses over several years, and now we need to obtain those funds. We need to ask the community for support.”

It’s simply the financial reality the district is in, he added.

“The additional funds add staying power to the West Branch Local School District and significant investment in young people in the community.”

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