NORTH CANTON The North Canton Board of Education held a special meeting on Monday evening with only one item on the agenda:
They voted again on sending a proposed school district earned income tax of 0.75 percent (three-quarters of one percent) and a 3.99-mill property tax levy to voters in November.
The resolution passed by a 4-1 vote.
The board, previously, took a vote on this tax package July 19; it failed 3-1 with board member Julie Cross absent.
Board member Nancy Marion once again voted no on sending the levy to the voters. Marion expressed much of the same concerns she had during the last vote, including that the earned income tax is permanent and that the increase in taxes will be too costly for residents.
She also challenged Superintendent Jeff Wendorf on whether reconsidering the vote was within the board’s bylaws.
“We, the administration and the board, feel that after meeting with legal counsel, that it is appropriate to hold a second vote,” Wendorf said. “The resolution clearly states that it requires a two-thirds vote of elected members instead of attending members to pass. We had one board member absent during the July 19 meeting, and tonight we have all of the board members present and voting.”
Cross spoke before the vote and apologized for missing the last meeting because she was feeling ill.
“I believe it’s important to pass this onto the voters in order to respect the process we’ve went through as a district with community input by letting the voters decide on the levy,” Cross said.
Other board members also stated they felt it was important to respect the process and hard work of the community and to let the voters decide to pass or fail the levy.
The meeting started to get heated when one of the people attending asked Marion if she thought her one vote was more important on this issue than the votes from the community. Marion left the meeting immediately after adjournment and without further comment about her decision.
Two people from the community spoke for it and three spoke against passing it onto the voters, including North Canton Councilman Mark Cerreta.
He said the city believes passing the levy and following through with the proposed plan will not make North Canton a better city. He told the board that the district and the city should work together to come up with a better plan to address the aging school buildings and other issues.
“One of the things that draws people to North Canton is the 1.5-percent income tax, with the 0.75 percent added in, North Canton will have one of the highest city income tax rates in the county,” Cerreta said.
One resident said he couldn’t believe it took two meetings to vote to send the levy to the ballot. He also expressed his disappointment with the North Canton city government for not supporting the school district’s efforts.
The resolution will appear as one question on the Nov. 7 ballot. If passed by voters, the school district earned income tax will be used for current operating expenses and general improvements.
The tax will generate approximately $5.87 million a year. For a person making $30,000 a year, the tax increase on earned income will be $225 a year.
The district will issue bonds in the aggregate principal amount of $55 million to provide funds for the purpose of constructing, renovating, remodeling, rehabilitating, adding to and acquiring, improving and equipping sites for buildings and facilities. The property tax levy will be used to pay the debt charges and potential securities on the bonds.
For a homeowner with a $100,000 house, the increased tax will be approximately $140 annually, and with a $170,000 house, the increase will be about $238 annually.
“The district needs operating expenses, especially with the current levy expiring in 2019. The district has already cut expenses by $1.5 million. If the levy passes, the district won’t need additional operational monies until 2023,” Wendorf said. “The earned income tax only applies to wages, tips, self-employed and partnership incomes. It doesn’t apply to interest, dividends, capital gains, pensions, social security, rental income or annuities.”
If the levy fails in November, Wendorf said there will have to be a $300,000 budget reduction made in the district in the 2017-2018 school year, plus another $1.25 million made in staff reductions in the summer of 2018.
The next regular meeting will be at 6 p.m. Aug. 16 in the media room at Hoover High School.