Despite signs of some opposition, Madison school tax backers hopeful

The signs of election day growing nearer have popped up on roadways throughout the Madison school system.

Voters in Madison Twp. will decide Tuesday on a proposed increase to the current schools’ income tax.

Pro-school tax signs far outnumber opposition signs and in some locations the opposing signage stands alongside each other off of local roadways.

Resident Ron Conley said he’s not alone in the community in backing the tax hike.

“It’s all about the children,” said Conley, whose property sports a pro-school tax sign in his front yard.

It has been 21 years since Madison schools saw residents approve a new school income tax for daily school operations and that’s too long, he said.

The 1,600-student Madison Schools, which has a single, K-12 campus, is the “centerpiece” of the rural Butler County community, said Conley.

“We have good people in our school programs and the administration, and they are people who care. I’m hearing both pros and cons (on tax issue) but I think it’s going to pass and I hope it does,” he said.

There is a lot at stake election day, school officials have said. Voters will decide on a 1% income tax to raise $2.4 million annually for the district, which has little commercial development and a few business tax revenue sources to pay for school operations.

Currently the district has an annual operating budget of $17 million funded in part by a previous .5% income tax paid for by residents.

If voters on Tuesday approve the new, 1% income tax, which is a continuing tax issue with no limit on years in effect, local residents would see a total of 1.5% of their earned income go to funding Madison Schools.

School officials have said the tax hike request was largely prompted by a sharp cut in state funding for the school system from Ohio’s latest biennium budget, which was approved in June with a new school funding formula.

If the proposed income tax hike fails, some school program and personnel budget cuts will have to follow, officials have previously said.

Sandy Creach, treasurer for the Madison school tax campaign, said “we’re rural and we don’t have all the businesses” that some other area school districts rely on for funding their schools.

“Somebody has to put in the money for the schools,” said Creach. “And if we (voters) wait and we don’t pass it (tax) now then the percentage of the tax will have to be higher the next time it’s on the ballot.”

“This is the cheapest is going to be and we’re doing our best to push it (tax) through,” she said.

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