Jefferson Local Schools Superintendent William Mullett hopes voters will continue a trend started 15 years ago when they passed a half-percent income tax supporting the school district.
During the Sept. 8 school board meeting, Mullett emphasized the tax is a renewal, despite ballot language calling the levy new since it is now an "earned income only" tax. Residents will no longer be taxed on any interest, dividends, capital gains, pensions, social security, lottery winnings, and income earned by estates.
"This is a very critical levy," said Mullett. "It raises about $800,000 a year that goes for operations. What is different about the half percent is it is on earned income only. If you look at the list of things not taxed, it would appeal to people on fixed incomes. It is our effort to give back to our community in tough economic times, although it will cost us approximately $90,000 a year. This is not a new levy. It is a renewal and we’ll be collecting less money, not more. We certainly hope people are supportive of this."
According to Mullett, the district’s five-year forecast indicates Jefferson Local will not need new millage in the next five years. The district has not asked for new millage in two decades. It collects a 9.5-mill emergency tax placed on the ballot 20 years ago, in addition to the half-percent income tax, along with a 20-mill base all Ohio districts collect.
"In 2003, we passed a bond issue exclusively for facilities," said Mullett, "and we rolled off an existing three mill permanent improvement levy which reduced our revenue collection for operations."
Mullett pointed out, while taxes have risen due to re-evaluation of homes, no new issues have appeared on the ballot and Jefferson Local pledges to continue that effort for the next five years. New businesses have brought new money and the population continues to grow. At one time, the income tax generated $500,000 for the school district.
"This will be the sixth levy we’ve run since I’ve been here and we’ve passed the last five," reported Mullett. "I hope the community continues to support us. The record of both the community and school district is very impressive. Very few school districts have been able to keep down expenses for this lengthy amount of time. Similarly, the community support of the schools has been exemplary. We are very proud of the education we offer our students and the many extracurricular programs that also support their development as individuals."
Only school district residents are taxed on applicable income. A worker with $30,000 in taxable annual wages, as reported to the state, would pay $150 in earned income tax, which is used to pay for salaries, benefits, utilities, materials and supplies, books, computers, buses, insurance, etc.