Opposition to Talawanda levy more visible as yard signs appear

An anti-school levy group will soon be displaying yard signs in the Talawanda school system as opponents ramp up their battle against a proposed property tax hike on next month’s ballot.

The Citizens for Responsible and Ethical School Spending (CRESS) will soon be handing out the signs, which urge voters to reject Talawanda’s school levy on the Nov. 8 ballot.

The group — through its website — contends Talawanda spends more than some other similar-sized districts in the area and that the school system as a “spending” problem, rather than a revenue problem as school officials have claimed.

“We’re a community group advocating for responsible school spending at Talawanda school district. Explore our website to find out more information on the issues plaguing our great district and what actions can and should be taken to fix Talawanda’s spending problem,” states the website.

Voters in the Oxford-area school system will decide on a 5.7-mill continuing operating tax to help fund daily operations of the district.

Also on the ballot Nov. 8 are Ross Schools and Kings Schools with proposed tax hikes.

ExploreThree area school districts ask residents to decide financial futures with levy votes

Cress members point out there two ways of calculating the cost of the proposed school levy and that Talawanda officials are only using one method in their campaign messages to voters.

School officials have said passage of the 5.7-mill tax increase will cost the owner of a $100,000 home an additional $199.50 annually.

But some of those opposing the tax point out the Butler County Auditor’s office also argue online the levy will cost more according to a percentage of the “fair market value” of a home.

Talawanda School Treasurer Shaunna Tafelski agreed, saying, “There is a group of people who are calculating the levy differently but still correctly.”

The other method is also accurate depending on fair market value of a home or property and in that case the annual cost of the school levy “would be about $570 if the property/residence assessed — at 35% of the Fair Market Value — was $100,000 by Butler County auditor.

Voters in Butler County have been encouraged to go to the Auditor’s website to calculate their actual tax increase should the school levy, or any other local tax issue, be approved by voters.

Long-time Talawanda school resident William Kuhlmann said he opposes the school tax hike in part because of the worsening economic times and increasing inflationary costs. He also objects to Ohio’s method of using property taxes from local property owners to fund a large part of local school operations.

“The levy should be rejected because funding public schools through property taxes is unconstitutional. And inflation is at a 40-year high and economists keep saying we’re staring down the barrel of a recession,” said Kuhlmann.

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