COVENTRY TWP. The Financial Planning and Supervision Commission, which is overseeing Coventry Local Schools while it is in fiscal emergency, voted unanimously not to move an earned income tax to the ballot.
The vote comes following the Board of Education's approving of a 1 percent earned income tax, but a 5-0 vote, during its June meeting.
Commission members said the lack of information and not knowing what the district would do with the money led to the no vote. The only information the commission was presented was a one-page sheet attached with the agenda asking for the commission to approve the issue to the ballot.
Nowhere on the sheet did it detail how much money would be raised.
Commission members asked several questions regarding the proposed tax, directed toward the school board, which came up with the proposed issue.
None of the board members, however, were present at the commission meeting.
The commission asked why 1 percent was being asked and why not a half percent, instead.
The 1 percent earned income tax would only have to be paid by those earning income. During the June board meeting, board member Josh Hostetler said the plan is to let an emergency levy from 2015 expire and the board would also not seek renewal of that property tax levy. The earned income tax levy would replace the property tax levy and would raise $2.6 million annually.
Some questions have been raised as to when exactly the 2015 levy expires and if there would be an overlap of where some taxpayers are paying for the levy and the earned income tax issue.
The commission was also not given any information about the levy that the board plans to let expire. Members of the commission would like to see that information in writing.
Passing new taxes for Coventry Schools has been a difficult task as the district has failed renewal issues in the past. A community group, Coventry School Taxpayers Accountability Coalition (CSTAC), formed asking for answers on the district’s finances and open enrollment. Hostetler and Ron Reed, both current board members, were a part of the group, which went dissolved following their elections onto the board.
CSTAC demanded transparency from the district and now the commission is asking for transparency when it comes to the earned income tax issue.
The commission asked the board to provide information on why the money is needed and what the plan is for the money raised moving forward. The commission wants to see this plan presented to it and the community before it will consider moving the issue to the ballot.