Lakeside High School staff not living in Ashtabula will pay less

By SHELLEY TERRY

Staff Writer

sterry@starbeacon.com

ASHTABULA - - Some Ashtabula Area City School District teachers and staff who don't live in the city are seeing more money in their paychecks this year.

The opening of Lakeside High School in Saybrook Township moved close to 100 employees outside the city, exempting the ones who don't live in the city of Ashtabula from paying the city's 1.8 percent income tax.

"Let's say the average teacher makes $50,000 a year. That means the city loses about $900 per year in income taxes (from that teacher)," City Auditor Michael Zullo said, noting there is no agreement for Saybrook to assess and then rebate any percentage to the city.

Zullo said it's impossible to know the number of school employees who don't live in the city because the number is always changing, with people moving inside and outside the city limits.

The news of not having to pay the city income tax comes at an opportune time for Lakeside High employees. City Council is expected to ask voters to pass an increase in it's income tax rate, from 1.8 to 2 percent, at the polls on Nov. 7. That means for every $100,000 of gross wages, residents and nonresident who work in the city will pay an additional $200 a year.

Retirees, senior citizens, military personnel and children under 18 would be exempt from the city's income tax, Zullo said.

Council has said it plans to use at least one-half of the two-tenths of 1 percent increase - - about $300,000 - - to fix city streets. It will vote whether to place the issue on the November ballot at it's Sept. 18 meeting. The city's charter requires city officials to put a tax increase on the ballot, Zullo said.

If it were passed, the increase would take effect Jan. 1, 2007, and stay in force through Dec. 31, 2009.

As for the loss of income-tax revenues from LHS employees, City Solicitor Tom Simon said the city should be concerned about where the district plans to build four new elementary schools.

City Manager Anthony Cantagallo said he's in contact with school officials and they're having difficulty deciding whether they should go with neighborhood schools or grade-level campus-style schools.

Ward 1 Councilman Matthew Perry said the city needs to present to the school board the property that's available in the city.

Zullo said the city loses money whenever residents work outside the city, are assessed income taxes in other municipalities those income tax rates are higher than Ashtabula's. For this reason, Ashtabula credits residents who work and pay taxes in Chardon, Painesville, Mentor or Eastlake, which all have higher income-tax rates than Ashtabula.

Star Beacon Print Edition: 9/8/2006

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