Central Ohio Voters Face a Bumper Crop of School Tax Hikes
Nearly two-thirds of the public school levies placed before voters in November will ask taxpayers to shell out more money, according to research conducted by The Columbus Dispatch. Statewide, there are 194 school levies on local ballots, with 123 including tax increases.
If history is a guide, only a small portion of the requested tax levies will be approved by voters. Over the past decade, Ohio voters have approved less than one-third of school tax hikes placed on November elections.
The nonpartisan Tax Foundation reports that Ohio homeowners currently pay an average of $1,135 in local property taxes each year.
Voters in the Worthington City School District are being asked to approve two tax levies: a $40 million replacement levy – which the school says will be used to repair buildings and purchase new computers for students - and an additional tax increase which will increase the average taxpayers burden by $446 over the course of three years.
The district warns of $10 million in budget cuts over the next few years if the tax hike is not passed. According to data collected by free-market think tank Opportunity Ohio, over 83 percent of the school’s spending is devoted to compensation costs, and Worthington City School District plans to increase spending by nearly 3 percent annually over the next several years.
Worthington City Schools teachers have enjoyed a 40 percent salary increase over the past 10 years, outpacing the rate of growth in median household income by a nearly 2:1 ratio.
Dublin City School District, which spends 91 percent of its budget on compensation packages, is asking voters to approve increasing the average homeowners tax burden by an estimated $634 in order to pay for the school districts plan to increase spending by 4.8 percent over the next four years.
As in Worthington, Dublin teachers have enjoyed salary increases far outpacing those gained by the taxpayers funding their salaries. The average Dublin City School teachers’ salary increased 46 percent over the past decade, while median household income in the district only rose by about 25 percent.
The Dublin City Schools treasurer has blamed Governor John Kasich’s accelerated phase-out of the tangible personal-property tax and other state spending cuts for its financial struggles, echoing attempts in Lorain to pin local layoffs on Kasich, a Republican. However, as was the case with the Lorain City School District, Dublin City School District has dramatically increased spending – by 87.5 percent over ten years – while funding increased by a smaller rate over the same period.
For more details about central Ohio school levy proposals, refer to a recent Media Trackers summary of the data shared by Opportunity Ohio for Franklin County.