By KATHRYNE RUBRIGHT
Two Hancock County school districts, Liberty-Benton and Riverdale, are asking voters to renew income taxes on Nov. 5.
Liberty-Benton is asking for a 10-year renewal of a 0.75 percent income tax that generates about $1.9 million annually.
“This is simply a renewal. We are not increasing the collection rate,” Superintendent Mark Kowalski said.
He noted that Liberty-Benton has the “lowest voted income tax in the county,” aside from the school districts that have no income tax.
The revenue amounts to about 13 percent of Liberty-Benton’s operating budget.
The tax was first passed in 1994 and was renewed in 2002 and 2010. The current tax expires at the end of 2020.
It provides operating money to cover expenses such as staff, supplies, utilities and maintenance.
Kowalski emphasized that the income tax is “totally separate” from a bond issue passed in May, which will fund renovation and new construction.
The income tax “is vital for us to continue the excellence and the opportunities we provide” to students, as well as staff and the community, Kowalski said.
At his “state of the schools” presentation earlier this month, Kowalski shared projections showing deficit spending of about $378,000 in fiscal year 2021 if the income tax isn’t renewed.
The district has not had deficit spending since 2009, despite increasing enrollment.
The 1 percent income tax collected by Riverdale Local Schools has been regularly renewed since 1994.
The community has been “very supportive of the school” and the tax, Superintendent Jeff Young said. Voters last renewed it in 2016 and it is up for another three-year renewal.
The tax’s current cycle ends in 2020, and the renewal would be effective Jan. 1, 2021.
The tax generates around $1.1 million annually, or about 8 to 9 percent of the operating budget, Young said. That covers expenses like electricity, heat, transportation, textbooks, technology and supplies, Young said.
“We definitely, definitely need it,” Young said.
The school district includes parts of Hancock, Hardin and Wyandot counties.