Wilmington City Schools’ tax renewal is on November ballot


WILMINGTON — Renewing the existing Wilmington City Schools’ (WCS) 1 percent income tax is critical for the district’s operating budget, said WCS Supt. Jim Brady.

The income tax provides approximately 17 percent of the school district’s total operating revenue, generating about $5 million annually.

The money would go toward ongoing permanent improvements “that we hope to continue,” student programs, staff salaries and benefits, buildings maintenance, fuel, utilities, transportation, technology, curriculum, supplies, student resources, extracurricular activities, and repairs and services, Brady said.

This same proposed five-year income tax renewal was defeated at the ballot box both this past spring and last fall. This tax first passed 20 years ago, and if not approved in November, will expire at the end of December.

If the income tax renewal does not pass, district officials project that for fiscal year 2024 — the first full year without the tax revenue — district expenses would exceed revenue by $4.4 million.

Brady emphasized that the ballot issue is a tax renewal and as such will not increase taxes.

“Strong schools and strong businesses, working together, help make thriving communities,” said the new WCS superintendent.

Overlapping with when this income tax was originally put in place in 2002, WCS has not asked for an increase in property taxes in over 20 years.

In relation to property tax, the WCS millage is 27.3 mills compared to the Ohio average of 50 mills, according to the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) section of the school district’s website.

That translates to the district collecting almost $2,300 less per student on property tax compared to the state average, the FAQ section says.

Brady also said, “I’m encouraged by the strides the district is making in student safety, security and student services through the utilization of temporary grant funds. I’m hopeful the district will have funds to continue to improve those aspects as well as our academics as these grant programs come to an end.”

WCS Treasurer Kim DeWeese said the income tax has “been in place for 20 years, so it’s income that we’ve counted on and needed for the last 20 years and we still need it.”

The treasurer said it is true that district enrollment has decreased over the past decade or so. She said district officials look at enrollment and class sizes every year and attend to that, and as a result teaching positions have been cut through attrition.

“And there’s also cost of living [increasing over past decade], and we still have 2,300 students,” said DeWeese.

In the same vein WCS Board of Education President Mike Flanigan suggested a comparison between “what a bus cost 12 years ago, 10 years ago versus what a bus costs today.”

He also suggested considering how the district has for a long time managed to cover a lot of capital improvements to its buildings “like new roofs, energy upgrades, lighting, windows, things of that nature” through General Operating Funds without having to come back to the voters and ask for more money.

Those improvements enable the school buildings to last longer and operate more efficiently which ultimately saves the district money through its heating and cooling costs, said the board president.

Regarding decreased enrollment, Brady said, “What we also don’t want is declining enrollment to continue. If we can get stability, and show those in the community we’re on the right path, then we can maintain and start growing the enrollment.”

He mentioned that “stronger schools equate to higher home values.”

Brady stated, “The ultimate goal is to pass this [the tax renewal] and continue to move forward.”

For purposes of clarification, the WCS tax is a traditional income tax, as differentiated from what’s called an earned income tax (or earnings tax). The difference between the two is that an earnings tax does not tax any pensions, she said.

With a traditional income tax like WCS has, pensions are taxable with the exceptions of Social Security and a railroad-related payment, the WCS treasurer said.

When the WCS tax was put in place 20 years ago, there was no such thing as an earned income tax at that time, said DeWeese.

For more details on the finances of the Wilmington School District as well as answers to FAQs, visit wilmingtoncityschools.com/treasurer .

Under the webpage’s “Fast Facts” heading, it states WCS spends $450 less on administrative costs per pupil compared to the state of Ohio average.

To ask questions regarding the district’s finances, you can contact the WCS treasurer’s office at 937-382-1641, ext. 7493.


Raises 17% of operating money

By Gary Huffenberger

[email protected]

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