The State Budget
By Joseph Spiccia, Superintendent
Over the past several months, the Board of Education and the administration has been working to preserve the district’s Tangible Personal Property (TPP) tax reimbursements that began in 2005 after the Tangible Personal Property tax was eliminated to stimulate economic growth throughout the state. At the time of its elimination, the Wickliffe City School District was receiving $2.8 million dollars annually in these taxes representing 14% of its total operating budget. Over the years since the elimination of the tax, the state has cut the reimbursements hundreds of thousands of dollars. This past year, the district received $2.1 million in reimbursements, representing 10% of the total operating budget. I have twice testified in front of the Senate Budget Committee to request that the reimbursements continue, as their elimination would have a devastating effect on the district. The budgets that both the House and the Senate recommended included a “hold harmless” provision that kept the reimbursements in place throughout the budget cycle. The legislative conference committee agreed with the House and Senate versions and sent the recommendations to the governor. Governor Kasich used his line-item veto power to eliminate the reimbursements in year two of the budget. While we are waiting for a final interpretation of what this may actually mean to the Wickliffe Schools, it is possible that our budget will suffer a $2.1 million loss in FY2017.
By law, the State of Ohio approved its new biennium budget on June 30, 2015. In his explanation of the elimination of the reimbursements, Governor Kasich proclaimed that the TPP supplemental payments would go primarily to wealthier school districts, which would divert resources from poorer schools. This is certainly not the case in Wickliffe. In fact, over the past ten years the number of students who have qualified as economically disadvantaged, making them eligible for free and reduced priced school meals, has nearly doubled from 21% in 2005 to nearly 40% this past year.
Since passing our last operating levy, the district has continuously cut $1,000,000.00 from budget each year as a commitment to keeping cost down and has found a variety of alternative funding sources (grants, donations…) to ensure programming. Even with the cuts that the district is making and the passage of the levy in 2011, we will have to ask for an operating levy in the near future. Further, I am concerned that if the total elimination of TPP reimbursements does take place in FY2017 the community will be faced with having to vote for an operating levy that not only addresses our typical “cost of doing business needs,” it will also have to include enough millage to make-up for the elimination of the TPP reimbursement.
The State budget appears to be providing a tax reduction to the citizens of Ohio. This is not accurate. The budget simply shifts the burden of taxation to local entities like school districts, and city governments. This is a shell game. One that attempts to make the State look good by lowering taxes and the local taxing agencies look greedy by having to ask for additional taxes, to make up for the money previously granted by the State. As voters and citizens, we need to make sure our voices are heard. I recommend that you contact your legislators and let them know that the elimination of the reimbursements is unacceptable.