Income tax headed to ballot
The Madison-Plains Board of Education will place a 1.25 percent Earned Income Tax on the May 8, 2018 General Election ballot. Members on Jan. 18 unanimously approved the resolution during a special meeting.

The decision follows an August 2017 defeat of a 5.953-mill Emergency Operating Levy.

“The district has been reducing operating costs for the last six years and hasn’t seen an increase in local revenue since 2005,” Board President Mark Mason said. “This is no secret. We have announced, discussed and published for the past several years: Madison-Plains projects a General Fund deficit at the conclusion of the 2018-2019 school year.” 
Furthermore, contributions from the state have declined.

State law prohibits school district officials from starting a school year without enough funding. Therefore, this measure is critical for MP.

“We are now at a point where future cuts will impact programming and students,” Mason said.

The Board and administration solicited specific input from residents about the pending fiscal crisis through monthly community meetings (MPAC), Board meetings, surveys, blogs, Facebook, direct mail and email correspondence.
The resounding 2017 defeat prompted the Board and administration to look at other viable possibilities for new revenue. The Board chose to move toward a type of tax that would exempt folks living on a pension or investment income. 

“The Board recognizes the burden our unique tax base places on our farmers, homeowners and certainly those living on a fixed income,” Superintendent Tim Dettwiller said. “This solution is one we hope alleviates the impact on certain individuals and stabilizes the district’s finances.”

An income tax also diversifies MP’s revenue stream, Dettwiller said. All but two of the contiguous districts have income taxes, and all have higher property tax rates.  

The Board of Education will next determine the makeup of a budget reduction plan which will balance the books for 2018-19 if the income tax does not pass in May. The discussion is set for the regularly scheduled Feb. 20 Board meeting.
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