Lisbon voters reject school levy

LISBON –Voters in the Lisbon school district have rejected a proposed 1 percent income officials say is needed to help avoid a deficit situation expected to arrive by the end of the decade.

The tax, which was to run for 10 years, was turned down 55.8 percent to 44.2 percent, according to complete, but unofficial results, from the Columbiana County Board of Elections.

The school board holds its regular monthly meeting at 5 p.m. Thursday, and the tax will certainly come up for discussion.

District voters last approved an operating levy in 1981, and the only other money issue that has passed since was a bond issue in 1991 used to convert the middle school into the new middle/high school school complex. The bond issues expires this year, however.

The tax was expected to generate $759,0000 per year that school officials say is needed to address a looming budget deficit come 2019, as spending continues to outpace revenue, which remains relatively flat due in part to declining enrollment. The only thing preventing a budget deficit now is a a $3 million carry-over balance, which has been declining over the past three years.

The school board wanted to take action now before it gets to that point so the district can continue to maintain a healthy balance and avoid having to make cuts that would affect the quality of education provided to students.

School officials pointed out the tax would have applied to “earned income” only, which would have affected those receiving a pay check.  Retirement benefits such as Social Security would have been exempt from the tax, but if the retiree works a part-time job that portion of income would have been subject to the tax.