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Is earned-income tax levy an option for Norwalk schools?

Cary Ashby • Mar 22, 2018 at 2:00 AM

A retired math teacher wants Norwalk City Schools to consider a 1 1/4-percent earned income tax levy.

“Based on the figures I received from the treasurer, this would generate $4,355,903, which is approximately $715,870 more per year than what you are currently receiving from the traditional income tax and the 5 for 5 (levy),” Falcon Crest Drive resident Duane Moore told the school board during a recent meeting.

“The 1 1/4-percent earned income tax would only 3/4 percent more than the present current income tax and would also replace the current income tax and 5 for 5, if passed.”

Income tax only goes up in quarter-percent increments.

District treasurer Joyce Dupont said using an earned income tax levy would narrow it from a “broad-based tax” and limit the constituents who would be impacted. Essentially, she said it would create a bigger tax burden on “working people.”

“I believe in public education; I think we all should pay for it,” Dupont added.

Moore, in presenting his idea to the board, said one of the reasons to consider his proposal is “only earned income would be taxable, meaning it would provide a tax break to retirees and unemployed as well as to the farmers as well as investments and eliminates the problem of property tax delinquincies.” He is a retired Norwalk High School math teacher.

Dupont, in a separate interview, said that’s not exactly accurate.

“Farmers would still be paying it. Farmers are earning income,” she added.

Also, the treasurer said those people on Social Security wouldn’t pay traditional or earned taxes.

Moore said he also believes an earned income tax would “remove commerical businesses from property tax” and a revenue increase “could provide extra income to help provide better security for our schools’ and students’ safety, whether it is for additional personnel or access to the buildings.”

“The last time this was put on the ballot it was only defeated by a couple of hundred votes. This was because we did not have the full support of the (school) board and also the current superintendent at the time,” he added.

Moore, having canvassed his “entire ward” where he lived at the time, said many residents would be willing to help promote an earned income tax, if they were given the opportunity. In addition, he said such a levy “would have a good chance of passing” if there was “a break in taxes.”

“I have talked to several retirees and they are in support of this tax as well as … several parents who said they would be willing to support it if the extra income was for better security for the schools and our students’ safety,” Moore told the board.

Superintendent George Fisk was asked if Moore’s proposal would be a feasible option for the district.

“I believe the board is looking at all available options and is getting feedback for those options,” Fisk said. “I think there are a lot of things that the board can look at.”

Two options that Fisk mentioned are a renewal levy, which would be the same as the previous tax and last five years and a substitute levy. That’s similar to a renewal levy except it would bring in new money from new property owners.

“It adds that little bit extra from the new people,” Dupont said. “It’s only on work income.”

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