EATON — Residents in the Eaton Community Schools district will be voting on Issue 9 during the Nov. 5 election. This issue is a 0.75 income tax renewal to fund everything from classroom supplies to utilities. As this is a tax renewal, voters will see no increase in taxes if they approve the issue, according to officials.
The 0.75 income tax was originally voted in 2005 and has been previously renewed twice. It was last renewed in 2013 and is good for five years. The collections on the present renewal will end on Dec. 31, 2020. The school district will start collecting money from this current renewal in January of 2021. The current income tax provides approximately $2,000,000 and the renewal will ensure the district has the resources to maintain current programs.
If this renewal does not pass, the school district will have two other opportunities to place it on the ballot, in March and November of 2020.
“The biggest thing the tax payers need to realize is there is going to be no change — this is a renewal. No new taxes,” Sara Haynes, Citizens for Quality Schools Co-Chair, said.
The following incomes are taxed: wages, salaries, tips, interest, annuities, IRA distributions, unemployment compensation, capital gains, self-employment, pensions, alimony, state/local bond interest, and dividends. The renewal will not tax social security benefits, worker’s compensation, child support, welfare benefits, railroad retirement benefits, property received as a gift or inheritance, or disability and survivor benefits.
Funds generated by the renewal will be used for necessities such as classroom supplies, teaching materials, and utilities. The income tax funds will help meet those expenses and provide the resources for teachers and students, including day-to-day operations of the schools, maintaining current facilities, buildings and grounds, and purchasing additional equipment, such as buses and computers.
“It can pay for anything. These funds are not put into a certain account,” Superintendent Jeff Parker said. “It goes into the General Fund and can be spent on anything and everything.”
The Eaton Community Board of Education has always been committed to a fiscal conservative approach to conductive business while maximizing what students and staff need in order to provide outstanding educational opportunities. With enormous support from parents, teachers, administrators, and students, Eaton Community Schools continues to provide a high-quality education at a low per-pupil cost — approximately $1,150 per student less than the state average.
The Eaton Community Schools administration and Board of Education is constantly monitoring and searching for resources they can use in order to provide opportunities for their students and staff by sharing costs with community partners. Eaton Community Schools is also a member of a purchasing cooperative (EPC) that pools together to purchase items such as natural gas, electricity, paper, cafeteria and maintenance supplies, health insurance, buses, and educational supplies at discounts provided through various purchasing consortium’s.
In August 2016, the district took advantage of low interest rates by refunding the callable portion of their outstanding bonds at a fixed rate of 2.38 percent. By refunding these bonds at that time, the district saved the local taxpayers $3,748,489 over the life of the refunding bonds.
Parker added, neither the performing arts building, stadium complex, nor wellness center impacted the need for the renewal.
The new performing arts building itself was financed through the bond issue and the interior was furnished with private donations. The funding for both the stadium complex and the wellness center came from private donations and had no impact on the need for the school district income tax funding in 2013 and that remains true in 2019. According to Parker, the renewal would be needed regardless of these new facilities.
“All of that was funded through private funds. Brad Neavin, back when he was superintendent, worked hard at getting out and getting that funded privately. That was not built with taxpayer dollars,” Parker said.
Parker wants to assure all voters that Eaton students are receiving a quality education. Ohio releases and utilizes a Local Report Card on a yearly basis. While Parker believes the Report Card is an “oversimplification of a complicated process,” it does provide a “snapshot” of part of what schools do. Eaton Community Schools has received an overall grade of a “B” on the past two Ohio Report Cards.
Eaton Community Schools also ranks 18th out of 606 Ohio school districts based on the Local Report Card Performance Index when compared with their Median Household Income Rank in the State of Ohio.
“One reflection that Eaton Community Schools has been a very good educator throughout the years is to take a look at who has located here. Take a look, just at the area of manufacturing for example. Henny Penny is home grown, but they have made the decision through the years to stay here and add 70 jobs. If the school system isn’t strong and producing good workers, they’re going to go elsewhere,” Parker said.
“You look at all the other manufacturing that has made the decision to locate here and stay here – it is the reflection of a strong community and strong school system. We are not asking for new dollars, we are just asking to renew.”
Eaton Community Schools’ expenses continue to increase. The school district’s budget must cover the ever-increasing cost of utilities, textbooks and other school supplies, and salaries and benefits. The money generated by the renewal will help to prevent interruptions in programs or services for Eaton Community School District Students. School funding from the State of Ohio does not keep up with the cost of services and Federal dollars have actually decreased over the last few years.
“From my perspective, as a tax payer and the superintendent, it generates approximately two million dollars a year in a $25 million budget. It is money that is needed to pay our bills and try to provide the best possible education we can for our students. We need it,” Parker said.
Haynes added, “It is my opinion that a strong school in our community is what makes the community a strong community. If you do not have a strong school, the community will suffer. I think our community takes a lot of pride in our schools and that is reflected through the support they’ve given us in the past.
If anyone has any questions or needs additional information regarding the Income Tax Renewal, they are urged to contact Superintendent Jeff Parker at 937-456-1107.
Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH