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Toledo, Ohio & Lake Erie

The Press Newspaper

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        The work of a levy committee of volunteers was crucial to the passage last week of an income tax in the Gibsonburg School District, superintendent Tim Murray said Wednesday.

        The school board held a special meeting last week to discuss the district’s financial situation after voters strongly supported a tax issue: 880 for to 516 against, according to unofficial results of the Sandusky County Board of Elections.

        The same tax request was rejected in the November 2017 election: 677 for to 759 against.

        “We were looking at the comparison to the last time and it swung it quite a bit. The levy committee worked real hard to keep the Nexus pipeline issues in perspective,” Murray said. “That really helped to get that information out. I’m not much of a social media guy but our levy committee did a great job. I think we kind of squelched that before it got too crazy. We had over 80 volunteers going door to door and we canvassed the entire district in about two hours. The energy the levy committee had was just mind boggling.”    

        The ballot language listed a 1 percent income tax but a current tax of 0.75 percent is slated to expire in December so the net increase will only be 0.25 per cent.

        According to district figures, the 0.75 percent issue collects about $800,000 annually. A 1 percent income tax is expected to generate about $1.2 million a year. The tax is levied on earned income. Social Security benefits, pensions, dividends, capital gains, and rental income are exempt.

        The new tax will be in effect for five years.

        Estimates prepared by Public Finance Resources in June 2016 show Gibsonburg schools receiving about $5.4 million over the first five years the Nexus pipeline is on the tax rolls.

        Murray and officials in other school districts and local governments along the route of the pipeline project have had to convince voters any financial benefit from the pipeline is years away.

        According to the Ohio Department of Taxation, the year 2020 would likely be the earliest districts would receive tax revenues from the pipeline.

        In addition, the valuations on which the pipeline taxes are based can be challenged and there is the possibility state funding to schools can be reduced to offset the increased revenues.

        In the meantime, Murray and the Gibsonburg school board are savoring the results of Tuesday’s election.

        “The swing was just huge. To go from where we were the last election to where we are at is pretty powerful,” Murray said. “That was all the levy committee. They’re an amazing group of people.”

        Danielle Mason, a member of the committee, said the group represented a cross section of the district and used social media to reach the public

        “It was a diverse group of people varying from older generation community members, long standing school employees, new school employees, parents of young children, and single individuals with no children. The diversity helped us to reach people of all ages and really relate to them and stress the importance of a strong school system no matter what their personal situation.

        “I think the reason it passed this time as opposed to the fall is because we used social media as a platform and we made ourselves and the levy campaign present within the community. We were able to get information out to everyone and clear up many of the misconceptions that people had. Some of our Facebook videos and informational sessions reached over 4,000 people. In the fall we only had community forums which still weren't heavily attended this time around. However, this time we filmed everything and people were able to watch these Q and A's and participate in them from their homes, cars, kids ball practices, etc.,” she said.

EMS, school levies pass

        Voters in Woodville Township and the Woodmore School District also supported issues on Tuesday’s primary ballot.

        In the township, voters overwhelmingly approved a 4-mill levy renewal and an additional 1.7 mills for emergency medical service. According to unofficial results, 699 voted in favor of the issues and 169 were against.

        Both levies have five-year limits.

        The 4-mill issue generates about $288,398 annually and the 1.7-mill levy is projected to generate about $138,968 a year. Those revenues cover the cost of vehicle and equipment maintenance and EMS personnel living quarter expenses.

        In the Woodmore district, voters approved the renewal of a 3-mill, 5-year permanent improvement levy.

        The levy generates about $420,000 annually.

 

 

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