‘There are good and bad points’: Edgewood district residents hear from leaders ahead of Tuesday’s tax levy vote

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

TRENTON —Supporters of the first earned income tax ballot issue in Edgewood Schools’ history held a state of the schools meeting in Trenton with less than a week to go before election day.

The public meeting, which attracted an audience of about 60 to Trenton’s Community Foundation Church, Tuesday evening saw lots of information and questions about the proposed tax hike described as crucial for keeping district financially solvent.

Voters will decide on a 1% earned income tax designed to help the 3,600-student Butler County district avoid projected budget deficits and partially compensate for reduced or flat state school funding of recent years, said Edgewood officials.

Adding to the district’s financial woes are continued inflationary costs impacting not only schools but almost all other aspects of the American economy.

The outcome of the May 2 election, district officials said, will largely determine whether Edgewood Schools have to make sweeping budget cuts in personnel, student programs and changes in busing.

“We can’t continue on deficit spending. We can’t continue on this trajectory,” said Edgewood Superintendent Kelly Spivey.

The district, which like all public school systems is mandated by Ohio law to operate without prolonged budget deficits, has already cut $1.6 million during the current 2022-2023 school year from its $38.7 million annual operating budget. Millions of dollars more of operating costs would be required to be eliminated should the earned income tax be rejected.

“That’s why we are where we are,” said Spivey.

Edgewood school parent James Collins attended the meeting to get more information on the school tax.

After the district’s informational presentation, Collins said he needs to think things over more before voting.

“Like anything there are good and bad points,” he said, adding the rarity of a community having to decide on an earned income tax, when most schools use property tax levies for ballot requests, is making him pause with more questions as Tuesday’s election nears.

“I’m not a 100% sure which way to go,” he said while also praising Edgewood officials’ presentation regarding the financial state of the local schools.

“It was very informative.”

The 1% earned income tax will not apply to residents on fixed incomes, such as retirees on pensions, but rather only those still earning incomes through employment.

The school system had previously cut $800,000 from its operating budget during the 2021-2022 school year and officials have been sounding an alarm since then about the need for more local tax revenue as federal COVID-19 relief funding is being phased out.

Among the 16 proposed job cuts is the elimination of one of the five police positions at the district’s five schools should the tax issue be defeated in May.

School buses would be more crowded, routes longer and service areas around schools may be stopped for families with students in grades K-8 living within two miles of a campus.

Moreover, said Spivey, sports and extracurricular fees would jump from $50 to $150 per student with no family fee cap.

“We know we have to move forward with a fiscally solvent plan.”

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