Cons outweigh pros
Brent Moore
February 20, 2008

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 reasons:

  • 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 taxes.
  • 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?

    Brent Moore
    Licking County