Sidney BOE changes levy to earned income tax

By Melanie Speicher -

SIDNEY — The Sidney City Schools Board of Education changed its plans for an income tax levy to be placed on the May 4 Primary Election ballot.

During a special meeting Tuesday night, the board rescinded the traditional income tax levy that it had approved earlier in the month. The board agreed to place an earned income tax levy on the ballot instead.

Treasurer Mike Watkins said the request to remove the traditional income tax — which saw all residents with income being taxed — after receiving feedback from citizens and at various meetings. The earned income tax means social security and pensions will not be taxed.

“This (earned income tax) was a clear direction in which we needed to go,” said Watkins.

The board approved a resolution of necessity to raise $3,383,068 for the district through a .75% earned income tax for a period of 10 years. The resolution was sent to the Ohio Tax Authority for its approval.

A special meeting will be held on Monday, Jan. 25, 2021, at 6 p.m. to approve the second resolution for the earned income tax and to act on the personnel items related to the expense reduction plan. The meeting will be held via Zoom and streamed on YouTube.

The second resolution has to be received by the Shelby County Board of Elections by Feb. 3 in order for it to be on the May Primary.

Superintendent Bob Humble said he was at a meeting where the traditional income tax was discussed.

“Everyone put their head down when we talked about the traditional income tax,” said Humble. “The more we talked we felt like we’d have a better shot at passing an earned income tax.”

Humble said the district will seek the support of senior citizens in passing the earned income tax. The second group will be registered voters over the age of 51. He said with the support of these registered voters, plus the district’s normal supporters, “we feel like we can go out and get this done.

“The business community is behind us,” said Humble. Also supporting the earned income tax levy is the Sidney Shelby Economic Partnership.

“SSEP is behind us and is partnering with us to get this done,” said Humble. “We feel this is our best chance to get this done.”

Humble said at the last strategy meeting the atmosphere had completely changed when talking about the earned income tax levy.

Tim Hamilton, a consultant with Fanning Howey Architects, addressed the board about the levy.

“The trend is going toward earned income tax (levies),” said Hamilton. “Seniors want to support schools but they’e on fixed incomes. It’s (earned income tax levy) is easily explained. It’s an easy way to target messages to different age groups.

“If you’re 65 (and retired) there are no new taxes,” said Hamilton. “If the person is moving toward 65, then there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. You’ve made a lot of reductions (in staff) and your message is strong.”

Scott Barr concurs with the revised tax levy.

“The probability for success is greater with an earned income tax levy,” said Barr.

He added with the recent revaluation of property and taxes increasing because of the revaluation the news that those on Social Security won’t have to pay taxes on an earned income tax levy comes as good news.

“You’ll be able to go out and share (with seniors) that this won’t impact you, No matter what you see on your property tax bill this year, this vote won’t come out of your pocket,” said Barr.

“This (earned income tax levy) is the best way to protect the population who have no control over their income,” said board member Bob Smith.

Smith also commented on the need for the passage of the levy.

“This amount of money matches in the graph o what we need to stabilize our budget for a longer time so we can make all the changes to really become stable,” said Smith.

Watkins aid the collection schedule for income tax is slower than for property taxes. If approved, the tax would be deducted from a person’s wages.

“It will be 18 months before we see a full collection,” said Watkins. Collections will be paid quarterly to the district.

The board went into executive session to discuss personnel items. No action was taken.

By Melanie Speicher

Reach the writer at 937-538-4822.

Reach the writer at 937-538-4822.