Blanchester Local Schools voters to decide income tax

By John Hamilton -

BLANCHESTER — With the school district’s revenue being flatlined since 2017, the Blanchester School Board in August decided to put a proposed income tax on the ballot as a possible way to help deal with revenues and expenditures for the schools.

The five-year annual income tax would tax one percent on the earned income of individuals residing in the school district.

Superintendent Dean Lynch told the News Journal the school district is in “pretty good shape” financially with $3.2 million going into the school year and $2.6 million for the next school year.

But when looking ahead at the 2021-2022 year, their budget is $1.1 million with “an ending cash balance being in the red.”

“It’s a revenue vs. expenditure issue,” said Lynch. “We are quickly spending down our cash reserves. Which leads to the obvious question, ‘So why are spending down our cash reserves?’”

Lynch said the answer is simple: the federal and state aid has literally stopped coming in. Last year, the federal dollars used to pay for employee’s insurance were cut. Their Unrestricted State Aide has been “flatlined” at $10.9 million since 2017 and the most recent release of the state’s biennium budget shows the same trend — no dollars coming into the district, according to Lynch.

He hopes the school district will be in the black by the end of the 2021-2020 school year, and to do so they decided to place the decision in the hands of district residents.

“It is no secret the board of education is split on how to get to where they want to go,” said Lynch. “The majority of the board wants to increase revenue by asking the community to support a 1% earned income tax. While the minority of the board wants to work on the expenditures of the district. Neither group is right or wrong, they are just different philosophies on how to get to where they want to go.”

With the tax, they hope to generate $1.4 million each of the next five years — the equivalent to 8.6 mills. The school district would not see the $1.4 million until the 2022 fiscal year. Until then the district would receive about $50,000 in fiscal 2020 and approximately $800,000 in fiscal year 2021.

“If the levy passes and the district continues to see revenues flatlined during the next biennium budget, the levy will sustain the district for another year through fiscal year 2023,” said Lynch.

By John Hamilton

Reach John Hamilton at 973-728-6397

Reach John Hamilton at 973-728-6397