School income tax on ballot

By MAX FILBY
STAFF WRITER
On the May 6 ballot, McComb residents will decide whether to renew their school district’s half-percent income tax.
If voters approve the five-year income tax, it will be the third time they’ve done so since 2004. The tax brings in about $365,000 a year and made up about 5 percent of the district’s revenue for fiscal year 2013, said Meri Skilliter, superintendent.
“It’s not new money, it’s what they’ve already been paying,” Skilliter said.
The tax pays for operational costs at McComb schools such as bus fuel, teacher salaries and supplies.
“It could pay for things like textbooks, but it’s more for day-to-day things,” Skilliter said. “We really do rely on it.”
Despite a $600,000 decrease in state funding since the 2011-2012 school year, the school board decided to keep the percentage the same for the income tax. Other districts, such as Arcadia, have seen similar decreases in state aid during the past five years.
McComb has had to “tighten spending” while also making staff cuts as state funding fell and enrollment slightly declined, Skilliter said. The district closed one of its buildings in 2012, consolidating to one facility.
“We’ve really tried to do more with less,” Skilliter said.
There is no official campaign going on for the tax renewal, Skilliter said. Instead, the district has tried to notify families via newsletter about its ballot request.
“We just want people to go out and vote,” she said.
Skilliter hasn’t received much feedback other than a few calls, emails and questions from area residents. Skilliter said she’s open to meeting with anybody who has questions about the renewal.
“Anyone can call or stop by if they have any questions,” Skilliter said. “We’re happy to do that.”
If the renewal fails on the May ballot, Skilliter said the school board would have to decide the next move. Skilliter was unsure how or when the tax would be placed on the ballot again.
“I don’t want to speak for the board, but I’m sure we’ll be sitting down to talk about that if that happens,” Skilliter said.
Skilliter is hoping it doesn’t come to that, though. She said the community has been generous in the past and she thinks it likely will be again in May.
“Our community has been very supportive in the past and we’re just hoping they will be again,” Skilliter said.
Filby: 419-427-8422
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