Income tax nixed by voters

BELOIT- West Branch’s revamped income tax levy fell Tuesday night, 2,430 (69.43 percent) to 1,070 (30.57 percent), according to complete but unofficial results.

The district had a five-year, .75 percent traditional income tax on the ballot, six months after residents refused a continuous income tax levy of the same amount by a nearly 54 percent margin.

Schools Superintendent Dr. Scott Weingart indicated difficult decisions are pending in order to battle a looming budget deficit, but stressed that the school board and administration will continue to strive for the best possible education for students.

“Today, the West Branch School District stands at a crossroad,” Weingart said in a written statement. “We respect the community’s decision and will continue to serve our students with wholehearted commitment and dedication.

“However, West Branch is facing a significant deficit this year, with an escalating decline in state funding in future years. As we address the deficits, school officials and school board members will have to make some difficult and uncomfortable decisions. Still, we will not shrink from our focus on our students and our mission to provide the best education possible within the available resources.”

Weingart noted that the district is operating at the lowest millage level at which a school district is permitted to operate and educates its students at $1,000 per student below the state average, but cannot offset the decline in state funding.

“With the drastic cuts in state funding the…income tax would have replaced the lost funding and enabled the district to continue to offer a comprehensive curricular and co-curricular program,” he said.

Weingart said the school board at this time has not made a decision regarding placing another operating levy issue on the ballot in the future.

The levy, which would have generated approximately $2 million annually, was defeated in Columbiana County 1,190 (67.96 percent) to 561 (32.04 percent) in Columbiana County, 1,223 (70.69 percent) to 507 (29.31 percent) in Mahoning County and 17 to 2 in Portage County.