Buckeye Institute: Ohio voters should be wary of tax increase ballot proposals

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COLUMBUS, Ohio – Voters in 19 Ohio school districts will go to the polls today to determine the fate of millage proposals.

Those voters would be wise to do their homework in advance and determine if their school boards have been handling tax dollars in the best possible manner, according to a release from the Buckeye Institute. Far too many districts run up budget deficits by overspending on employee compensation, even during lean times, the release said.

If that’s the case, voters should think twice about voting “yes,” according to the Buckeye Institute. Wasteful districts will continue to waste, which means taxpayers could be throwing good money after bad.

One good example is the Franklin City school district, which is seeking an additional 7.92 in property tax millage, according to the Buckeye Institute. The district’s new five-year forecast reveals that any new  tax revenue will mostly be applied to growing payrolls and employee pension commitments.

District spending on payroll and pension costs is expected to increase by nearly two million dollars by 2017, the release said. District officials say they need the new tax revenue to “maintain the current level of instruction.”

No kidding. The extra money would be spent on teacher salaries and benefits, not the students.

Magnifying-glass-on-glassAs the Buckeye Institute put it, “Taxpayers should carefully consider whether this rate of growth is sustainable, or whether they will just be asked for more levies in the future to support the increased spending,” the release said

Another example is the Tecumseh school district in New Carlisle, which is asking voters to approve a whopping 12.37 mill tax increase.

Officials say the district needs the extra money to avoid a state takeover, according to the release. If that occurred, the state would manage the finances of the cash-strapped district, which may in fact be a good thing.

Tecumseh is currently spending 85 percent of its total revenue on employee compensation, and that figure will balloon to 96 percent by 2017, the release said. That’s means almost all of the money will be spent on staff, with little left over to improve student instruction.

“Many Ohio school districts are facing balance sheets that do or risk running into the red,” the Buckeye Institute wrote. “But for far too many, this is a problem of their own making – the result of unsustainable spending.

“Taxpayers across the state tightened their belts during the Great Recession … before taxpayers agree to another round of tax increases, they should look at the expenditures being made by their local school districts and make sure that those districts seeking the increases are likewise tightening up their spending.”

By Steve Gunn at EAGnews.org

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