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  • Nick Bates

Election Season: Levy Basics

Ohio has a whole host of great public services that strengthen our communities.

Senior services, libraries, schools, parks, children’s services, are just a few of the public investments that regularly receive support from voters at the polls. These services are funded by national, state, local and philanthropic efforts.

We need the wealthy to pay their fair share for these services.

Some communities recognize the value of income tax revenue to support schools, roads and other public services and are levying an income tax at the local level. This approach allows those with the fewest resources to pay less. However, fewer than 1 in 3 Ohio school districts levy an income tax. Most local services still rely heavily on property taxes – which means that your zip code will likely determine the quality of service you receive.

How can we make sure our kids receive the best education, seniors are cared for, and our parks are great?

Ohio will always need a balanced approach of property, sales, and income taxes to balance our budgets and support our great public services. Different sources of revenue protect public investments in the ups and downs of the economy which may significantly reduce a revenue source.

Housing prices are going up, so schools and other services are getting more money, right? WRONG!

HB 920 (1976) In Ohio, you cannot pay more money on a levy than you paid in the first year of the levy. So if voters pass a 5 mill levy for 10 years, whatever a property owner pays in that first year is the most they will ever pay on that levy.. The actual voted upon millage will decrease (known as the effective millage). So even though the cost of gas, textbooks, electricity, food and other essentials increase, the revenue for the community service remains the same! This is why we have both renewal and replacement levies in Ohio.

A renewal levy: Asks voters to continue to support a levy at its current amount paid. For example, a 10 year 5 mil levy might be asked for a renewal after 10 years for another 5 years at 4.2 mils.

A replacement levy: Asks voters to continue to support a levy at its regularly voted millage. So if voters voted for a 5 mil, 10 year levy (but were only paying 4.2 mils) voters are asked to restore a rate of 5 mils on local property.

Read the Ohio School Boards Association additional information on local levy calculations

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