I've closely followed the
arguments for and against the West M earned income tax levy at Sharon
Smith's town meetings, read the letters to the editor and subsequent
dialogue on the StoryChat. Many good points, on both sides have been
raised, countered and debated.
Proponents of the levy say the level
of state funding compared to other school districts is low, West
hasn't passed an operating levy since the 1980s and $2 million has
already been cut. It's temporary, and will only affect earned income
protecting the retirement income of senior citizens. Finally, with
passage of the levy, West will still have the lowest revenue of
Muskingum County school districts.
The opposition counters West receives less in state funding due to
the high property values and taxes, their revenue grows with each new
house and increase in property value and should have grown
considerably thanks to Northpointe. Some argue the levy is double
dipping, others say it's unfair to tax people earning a wage. Finally,
passing the levy will increase West's revenue per student to one of
the highest in the county.
Having weighed all the arguments, I'm voting no, for the following
Temporary levies come back again and again ... East Muskingum has
two renewals on the March ballot. Both originally passed in 1993,
renewed in 1998 and 2003 and they're back.
Taxing earned income places the financial responsibility totally
on wage earners while exempting many other forms of income and
potential tax bases.
In addition to the levies that passed last November and the
county's across-the-board increase, there are a minimum of four other
levies or issues on the ballot that will potentially increase property
Passage of this earned income tax will not help West's long-term
financial problems. If I'm reading the five-year forecast correctly,
there is an estimated shortfall of $.5 million in 2009, $.9 million in
2010 and 2011 and $1.3 million in 2012. If the overspending continues
into 2013, 2014, could it reach $2 million in a few years?