When we endorsed the Alexander Local School District’s income tax levy last autumn before the Nov. 8 general election, we had good reasons for that endorsement. As far as we’re concerned, those solid reasons continue today.
That effort lost by a significant margin, 56 to 44.
Despite that outcome, once again we’re urging our readers living in the Alexander district to support the income-tax levy appearing on the May 2 ballot.
Alexander (which includes parts of western and southwestern Athens County, as well as small parts of Meigs and Vinton counties) has not passed an operating levy for additional funds in 25 years. In the meantime, state funding for Alexander has been reduced by $2.2 million since 2009.
The 1.5 percent levy would affect earned income. This means it would not touch many forms of income, including Social Security and disability, dividends and interest, capital gains, pensions, workers comp and other forms of so-called non-earned income. The income tax, if passed, would be levied for a continuing period of time, and would go toward the general operating expenses of the district.
School District officials say that if the tax does not pass, the district will be unable to replace old school buses or maintain low class sizes, and will have to cut back on faculty, other staff and athletic programs. The cuts, district officials say, will be severe.
The bus situation is especially serious in the Alexander district. Due to budget cuts, the school district has been unable to replace old, increasingly dilapidated buses in years. That creates a safety issue for children that no School District should have to tolerate.
Some critics of the proposed income-tax levy are focusing on the school district’s wellness center project, and suggesting that the district’s money problems are a result of misspending on that project, as well as expenses related to building a sewage plant to serve the wellness center (and medical clinic in the center). The same critics maintain that the Alexander School District could have saved substantial money in project, operation and legal costs by tying into the village of Albany’s central sewer system.
District officials argue that the village required the district property to be annexed into Albany to tap into the village sewer sysem, a move they didn’t want to make without consulting the voters, including in areas of the district outside of Albany such as New Marshfield, Shade and Meigs County.
Officials have said that the costs of the subsequent lawsuit could not be avoided considering the village’s stance on annexation.
Moreover, they say that the Wellness Center has brought the district into legally required Title IX compliance and that the district would face a budget crunch whether the Wellness Center had been built or not.
With state funding not increasing in the past eight years, school officials say the school district faces very large deficits if it doesn’t obtain more revenue to offset those projected shortfalls.
Currently, Alexander is operating on the lowest amount of property tax millage allowed by law, and has the lowest millage rate in Athens County.
Alexander Local Schools do a good job of educating the district’s young people, and do so without a lot of money. It would be a shame to penalize those efforts by forcing budget cuts that erode the quality of education that children receive in the school district, the safety of district children on school buses, and their opportunities for extracurricular activities and athletics.
All you need to know is that these things will happen if this tax levy fails at the polls next Tuesday. Vote yes on the Alexander Local School District’s earned income tax levy.