VANDALIA — The Vandalia-Butler City Schools came out among Montgomery County’s biggest losers in the latest school funding formula.
As a result, the district will lose an estimated $542,710 in the 2017 fiscal year thanks to Governor John Kasich’s line-item veto of a provision to supplement the state’s Tangible Personal Property Tax (TPP). The veto was one of 44 issued by Kasich two-year budget for the 2016-17 fiscal years.
That amount represents an 8.5 percent drop in state funding for the district from $6.385 million in FY 2016 to $5.842 million in FY 2017. That decrease is the largest by percentage of any district in Montgomery County.
In his Veto Message, the Governor said the TPP reimbursement payments “are predominately paid to districts with higher local capacity to raise revenue to support their schools. Therefore, this guarantee provision diverts resources that could be targeted to lower capacity school districts.”
The TPP has been reduced steadily since 2004 as part of a phased-out elimination, but lawmakers had inserted language in the budget that would have guaranteed districts no reduction in funding over the next two years.
Kasich’s veto left funding at current levels for 2016 only.
“Capacity” is what the state views as the ability of local districts to fund schools through property tax levies and income tax.
Vandalia-Butler Treasurer Eric Beavers expressed dismay that state government can determine how much local school boards should tax their residents.
“I get confused on how the state can base it on a formula and past levy results when no one physically comes here to see what is going on in taxpayers’ homes,” said Beavers. “It is not their right to determine what our community can pay in taxes based on past support. It is very disheartening that they are making decisions without getting the true pulse of the community and that the state is trying to shift more tax burden onto the local community.”
Beavers said that the funding cut negates the district’s efforts to cut spending and improve efficiency – including a $415,000 savings in health insurance costs found by joining a purchasing consortium.
“The state just wiped out what we saved on the local level,” said Beavers. “They are killing all our local efforts to move the district forward by negating all all our savings and efficiencies. In one fell swoop, this will put us in recovery mode again.”
State Senator Peggy Lehner (R-Kettering) said she disagrees with Kasich’s veto and the Governors’ reduction in income taxes – which came at the expense of school districts and local governments.
“I disagree with the Governor’s (income) tax policy,” said Lehner. “The income tax cut is not significant enough to make a difference to anyone who gets it, yet the cuts keep coming to local government and schools. Local government has to provide basic services, and that has to be paid for. Someone has to pay for it, which means an increase in local taxes which makes no sense to me.”
Vandalia-Butler is considered one of Montgomery County’s wealthier district based on a complicated formula that, when calculating both industrial and residential property values, means the district has the ability to raise more tax revenue. As a result, the district will only receive state funding of $2,169 per pupil in 2016. That figure falls to $1,985 per pupil in 2017.
Only Centerville receives less state funds per pupil in Montgomery County.
By comparison, neighboring Huber Heights will receive $5,178 and Northmont will get $4,102 per pupil in 2016.Reach Darrell Wacker at 937-684-8983 or on Twitter @VandaliaDrummer.