The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Local News

March 24, 2011

’Bula sees big bucks in Wade Avenue campus

City expects to receive $160,000 annually in income taxes

ASHTABULA — They may just look like five new elementary schools to you, but when the city manager looks at them, he sees dollar signs: nearly $160,000 a year.

That’s the estimated amount of income taxes expected to be paid by Ashtabula Area City Schools elementary campus staff when all the schools on Wade Avenue open in fall 2012, City Manager Anthony Cantagallo said.

Three of the five schools will open this fall, unleashing a stream of income taxes into the city’s coffers, school and city officials said.

By 2012, for the first time ever, all of the elementary schools will be in the city. Saybrook and Plymouth teachers and staff who didn’t live in the city never paid income tax to the city before.

“When they are all up and running, we are going to get a total of $159,767 annually,” Cantagallo said. “It makes you wonder, with this kind of income, why council waited to annex and why they worried about paving (Wade Avenue).”

Teachers at Lakeside High School and Junior High do not pay income taxes to the city unless they live in the city, because those schools are in Saybrook Township.

After debating the matter for more than a year, City Council voted Dec. 31, 2009, to annex a portion of Wade Avenue in Saybrook Township on which the school board had begun building the elementary schools.

The income taxes to the city during the two-year construction period are estimated at $392,071, according to city officials.

“The city lost $100,000 of that amount by waiting to annex,” Cantagallo said.

The city school board recently asked the city to pave Wade Avenue and add a turn lane in anticipation of opening the three new elementary schools in August. Just like annexation, the agreement to upgrade Wade Avenue didn’t come easily, even after Saybrook Township committed to paying half the expense.

Ward 2 Councilman August Pugliese said he understood that annexation wouldn’t cost the city anything. He said he voted for annexation only because school officials promised him the city wouldn’t have to pay for anything.

Cantagallo encouraged council to vote for the road improvements, as did councilwomen Julie Lattimer and Ann Stranman. They said a majority of children going to those schools are city children.

“The city has an obligation to keep those children safe,” Cantagallo said.

City Council unanimously supported $209,650 in improvements Monday night, only after agreeing not to borrow any money to do so. Council cited the city’s dire financial state and agreed to take the money from the city’s street-paving fund.

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