The Cloverleaf Board of Education unanimously approved a 0.25 percent reduction in the district’s earned income tax if voters renew a 4.2-mill operating levy on the Nov. 8 ballot. The board voted to approve the measure at its regular meeting Sept. 21.
“Not only has Cloverleaf kept its promise to hold the line on new levies, the Board of Education has taken action to reduce some of the levies we have on the books – and will look at doing so again in the future,” said Board President Jason Myers.
In 2020, when voters approved renewal of the district’s 2-mill Permanent Improvement levy, the board followed through on its promise to reduce the levy’s collection to 1.39 mills. Now, the board is turning its attention to residents who pay the district’s 1.25 percent earned income tax, promising to reduce its collection to 1 percent, if voters renew the operating levy on the ballot in November. The earned income tax cut would take effect Jan. 1.
The district’s ability to offer this potential tax reduction stems from the fact Cloverleaf has reached the minimum level of effective millage allowed by Ohio’s system of school funding – known as the “20-mill floor.” Ordinarily, schools do not receive additional revenue as property values rise. However, when a district reaches the 20-mill floor, non-fixed-dollar levies generate additional funding based on property values to prevent the district from falling below the 20-mill minimum. Effectively, Cloverleaf is promising to give a portion of that revenue back to constituents in the form of a tax reduction.
Additional tax reduction comes from the fact that the cost to taxpayers of the Nov. 8 renewal decreases over time. Originally approved at 6 mills in 2005, it’s collecting at 4.2 mills in 2022, and will be reduced again to approximately 3.4 mills in 2023. (The new rate will be finalized by Medina County in December.) That’s because more homeowners and businesses have moved into the district. With more taxpayers contributing, everyone’s share is reduced. Even when property values rise, the amount received by Cloverleaf remains the same because it is a fixed-dollar levy. Passage of the renewal – which accounts for 9.1 percent of Cloverleaf’s budget – is vital for the district to maintain its current level of service to students.
“It’s also important to note the State of Ohio pays 12.5 percent of this renewal,” said Treasurer Jim Hudson. “The state no longer offers this rollback on newly passed levies, but our taxpayers can continue to benefit by seeing these state tax dollars come back to Cloverleaf.”
In 2014, when the district emerged from Fiscal Emergency, the Board of Education promised not to ask voters for new funds until at least 2020. Not only is that promise on track to be extended to 2028 or beyond, the board will continue to look at making tax reduction part of its renewal requests going forward – something rarely, if ever, seen in Ohio, said Superintendent Dr. Daryl Kubilus.
On top of that, all Cloverleaf students soon will be in new or relatively new buildings – both completed without a taxpayer bond issue, thanks to Medina County sales tax funding for construction of Cloverleaf Elementary School in 2012 and tax revenue from the NEXUS natural gas pipeline for construction of a new 6-12-grade building, set to open in 2024.
“In the darkest days of Fiscal Emergency, our community rallied to support Cloverleaf,” Kubilus said. “We are more committed than ever to keeping faith with our constituents and to providing the best possible education for our students.”