How To Remove a School Levy: Taking tax money back from the schools
The Cincinnati Enquirer recently announced that Lakota Schools had lost nearly half of all their school principals due to the financial struggles of three failed school levies. These Lakota principals have jumped off the ship citing upon their exit that they are uncertain about their financial futures and are either retiring or seeking employment elsewhere. That information is of course contrary to what they say in school levy campaigns, which is that everything they do is for the children. The mass exodus of these administrators to school districts they believe will continue their premium salaries and benefits should be an insult to the surrounding schools, and reveals what the true feelings are from these school employees. Administrators are essentially saying that they would rather leave behind the children who count on them because the district is attempting to solve their financial difficulties in favor of districts that are still throwing money at their public employees like there is no tomorrow.
One of the downsides to the Lakota School District deciding not to put a levy on the ballot in 2012 is that I will not get to attempt what the taxpayers in the Westerville School District are doing. For many years, those of us who have fought against tax increases have felt like victims of an organized political plot arranged between local politicians on school boards, and the radical teachers unions who have created for themselves gold plated benefits and wages at the expense of the tax payer. I have often complained that the average wage for the Lakota employee is $63K per year, but in Westerville, in Central Ohio, their average wage is $65K per year and trending towards $80,000 by the 2014/2015 school years. The spending was not stopped at Westerville as it was at Lakota because voters there approved by a narrow margin a 51% to 49% passage of a 6.71 mil tax.
See video of the repeal move against this levy at this link:
Usually, the story ends there, as it did recently in Southern Ohio in districts like Fairfield, Lebanon, and Little Miami who barely passed their tax levies with the help of huge apartment dweller votes, and serious organized labor rhetoric. Many voters once they approve for levy passage and see how the schools spent the money on teacher raises and other employee costs often regret their decision. And that’s what’s happening in Westerville.
With the help of the 1851 Center as their legal representation tax fighters have began to collect signatures to place on the ballot a roll back of that recently approved levy which is a tremendous act. Westerville is doing what all school districts who fight higher taxes are doing, and that is utilize the philosophy of the “best defense is a great offense.” Don’t wait for the radical union elements to push for further tax increases. Go after the tax increases already wrestled and manipulated by the educrats in organized labor, and rob it back to give to the tax payers who had it stolen to begin with. Such a move means that no longer on Election Day can organized labor put levy after levy on a ballot till it passes, then roll their naked bodies in the piles of money once they’ve legally stolen it without recourse. The 1851 Center led by Maurice Thompson has revealed a little known section of Ohio Revised Code that makes what Westerville is doing possible for every school district in Ohio who has suffered a similar fate. Read more about Westerville here:
I had a chance recently to speak with Maurice Thomson for a bit and he let me know that a few Southern Ohio tax fighters had contacted him but did not follow through, and he was still waiting to hear from them. I was surprised because I know the people involved and it seemed like the kind of thing that they would pounce on. Thompson is the Executive Director at the 1851 Center and directed the Buckeye Institute for Public Policy Solutions. Previously Thompson served as an attorney for the Sam Adams Foundation in Chicago and practiced privately in Ohio and Illinois. His legal fees on these education matters are free. He has successfully litigated cases in the Supreme Court of Ohio as well as intermediate courts of appeal and courts of common pleas throughout Ohio on issues such as property rights, regulation taxation, corporate welfare, search and seizures and smoking bans. He’s also the author of Presuming Liberty: Using Ohio’s Constitution to Limit Government, Defending Liberty in Ohio: A Roadmap for Protecting Freedom and Limiting Government with the State Constitution, and he wrote the forward for the current pocket copy of Ohio’s Constitution. You can contact Thompson at the following website:
Maurice Thompson has actually written a citizens guide to reducing school district tax burden that can be found at the 1851 Center site. Basically, what Thompson is advocating is that there is a very little utilized R.C. 5705 and R.C. 5748 that allows tax payers to reduce or eliminate most types of school district property and income taxes enacted through local levy elections. Specifically it is R.C. 5705.261 that permits Ohioans to use local initiatives to win the reduction or repeal of qualifying tax levies. Some of the rules for reduce or repeal of a tax is the voters must have approved the levy. The levy must not expire, and there can only be one attempt every five years. Read it for yourself here:
So for those who want to attempt this, be sure to take a page out of the union playbook and collect the ballot signatures during the summer while all the school employees are on their Caribbean cruises and vacationing at Disney World so that they can’t match your signatures with an attempt of their own to reduce their own levies with a ballot attempt of .000001 mil just to keep residents from being able to strike back at them, since another attempt would have to wait 5 years before trying again.
The sum of these matters is this—tax payers do not have to be passive victims always waiting for a school district to attack them with never ending tax increases. There are measures right now in place to strike back at the labor union methods of placing levy after levy, after levy on a ballot until it passes—then attempting to put it on in the summer like they did in Pickerington to stack the votes in favor of the school employees since school was off everyone’s mind. That district finally passed their levy after several attempts. Lawyers at the 1851 Center like Maurice Thompson are licking their chops for an opportunity to help right the wrongs that are going on in Ohio Schools at the expense of children for the gain of extremely self centered public employees who are out-of-touch and just plain greedy. But people have to call them, and let them help. Tax fighters have to be willing to collect signatures, but most of the people I know who fight these things have done all this activity before, so it isn’t difficult. I plan to call Maurice if Lakota ever manages to sneak one by in my district. But for those who have had them sneak by, like Lebanon, like Fairfield, like Forest Hills, like Little Miami, I recommend you call Maurice today and begin the process of removing those levies and showing the school boards that the tax payers of your districts are not going to take it.
We do not have to sit around waiting for school districts to keep pushing and pushing and pushing a tax until they get it passed, forcing taxpayers to just endure the higher tax grudgingly for the next 4 to 5 years until they try to raise taxes again in order to pay for the extraordinary salaries of their public employees. Now taxpayers can strike back, and do so in a huge way. And the way is being paved in Westerville with the help of Maurice Thompson at the 1851 Center. The wave of the future is not in tax increases initiated by bloated school districts but in the removal of them by the citizens who refuse to take the initiatives lying down. Such vigilance is the best way to bring fiscal responsibility to school districts by forcing changes that the schools will not enact upon themselves because of the radicalism of the unions that infect them.
As for Lakota, they will learn that they can succeed quite well without those middle manager principals, and that all along many of those administrators were just useless positions that could easily have been picked up by the assistant principals or a promoted teacher. The urgency at Lakota is only because the residents have taken the effort to manage our costs by saying no to tax increases. But for the other districts around Ohio who have been unfortunate in having taxes raised behind their backs after intense struggles—such as Little Miami who put their levy on the ballot 9 times—there is now a tool that tax payers can use to shut down those levy increases so that there will soon be no place for the bandits to escape to, forcing them as public employees to deal with the facts of reality.