Johnstown Independent

Johnstown-Monroe Local Schools

Levy renewal requested to 'keep a good thing going'


A Johnstown-Monroe Local Schools parent helping with the 1-percent income-tax renewal said levy failure could be "devastating."

"The district is pretty lean as it is," Jay Hazelbaker said.

The existing 1-percent income tax currently collects $2.1 million per year. It first was approved in 2003 with an effective date of Jan. 1, 2004, and was renewed in 2007. The funds are collected and used only for general-fund operating money.

"You can't lose that much money and not have some negative impact," Hazelbaker said, adding that the levy would continue to collect only at the current rate. Taxes wouldn't increase with levy passage.

"There's so much good stuff going on in the district right now," Hazelbaker said, noting that the Ohio Department of Education has rated the district as "excellent with distinction" on the latest state report cards soon to be released. "This isn't a new idea. Let's keep a good thing going."

Superintendent Damien Bawn reiterated that the five-year levy on the Nov. 6 ballot is not a tax increase.

"There's no new money," he said. "We're asking for the same thing we've been getting."

He said he has expected the income tax and an existing 9.6-mill emergency levy, which was approved in May 2009 and expires at the end of 2013, to keep the district solvent until now, and it has. In fact, Bawn said, the district is doing a little better financially than projected, but that still doesn't erase the strong need for the income tax levy.

"We do need to continue the money we have to keep operating," he said.

District treasurer Tammy Woods said it's too early to tell what cuts would be needed should the levy fail in November.

"We would have to look at what would be needed to make up the difference," Bawn said.

He said the income tax expires so the district would have opportunities to return to the ballot if necessary.

Hazelbaker said he doesn't see why the levy wouldn't pass.

"Any time you can say you have such a strong return on investment, I don't know who would oppose it, when you look at it that way," he said. "It's hard to argue with results."

Hazelbaker said he's unaware of any organized opposition to the levy.