By Linda Dillman, Staff Writer
Jefferson Local Schools’ plan to put an income tax levy on the Nov. 5 ballot came to a grinding halt on Sept. 10 when it was discovered that the ballot language filed with the Madison County Board of Elections does not match what the district wanted to put before voters.
School officials planned to ask for a 1 percent income tax to replace the 0.5 percent income tax that expires at the end of 2014. However, the ballot language the Board of Elections received from the district calls only for a 0.5 percent income tax.
“It is a situation of miscommunication between what we conveyed to our attorney and what she wrote up for the Board of Elections,” said Jefferson Local Schools Superintendent William Mullett. “There was a breakdown in communication. We knew what we wanted, a 1 percent income tax levy, but a half-percent levy was submitted to the Board of Elections.”
The deadline to submit issues for the November ballot was Aug. 7. State law does not allow for changes in ballot issues after the deadline.
“While it is a disappointing situation, because of the language, we’re pulling it off of the ballot,” Mullett said.
He hand-delivered the district’s written withdrawal notice to the Board of Elections on Sept. 10. The issue will not appear on the November ballot. Mullett said he expects the school board to officially vote to withdraw the levy from the ballot during their regular October meeting. The school district has two opportunities next year to put the 1 percent income tax levy on the ballot before the current 0.5 percent income tax expires.
“This means we’ll get an early start on the campaign for next year,” Mullett said.
He expects a levy campaign to begin in earnest after the holiday break in December. The structure for a campaign steering committee is already in place. Mullett, school board members, school staff members and community volunteers will serve on the committee.