Will the public ever have a chance to vote on an Earned Income Tax as one means of helping to close a huge projected budget gap facing the T/E School District?
That's the question members of the current school board will have a chance to answer tonight at 7:30 in the Conestoga High School cafeteria.
All the candidates from both parties who ran in last week's election are on the record as being "personally opposed" to the tax. That does not necessarily mean some members of the board wouldn't vote to let the issue go to a public vote.
That's not as unlikely as it may appear because a "yes" vote at the Monday evening meeting would not guarantee the EIT would be on the ballot in April.
Yes Means 'Maybe'
A majority of current board members could theoretically have enough "political cover" to let the ultimate decision pass to the new school board in January.
Republican board member Kevin Mahoney, for example chairs the Finance Committee and is retiring from the board at the end of this year. Democrats are quick to point out that Mahoney offered the original proposal to consider an EIT. He did not participate in the debates in which the candidates stated their "personal" opposition to an EIT. Republican Debbie Bookstaber also did not run for re-election and will step down at the end of this year. Four other members of the board are not up for election until 2013, two years closer to the sea of red ink that looms on the horizon. With four seats not in play until 2013 and two current board members retiring next month, there could be some political wiggle room that could push the EIT decision off to the new board. That is not to say it will happen.
No Means No
A no vote however would guarantee the EIT would not be on the ballot. That's because Wednesday, November 16 is the state deadline for a non-binding notification to Easttown and Tredyffrin Townships that the school board wants to put the EIT on the April primary election ballot.
OK, So What Does All That Mean in English?
It means that if the school board votes "no" Monday night to putting the EIT on the ballot, it can't go on the ballot in April. A no vote means the district would not have enough time under state law to notify the townships.
If the school board votes "yes" to putting it on the ballot, they have more time to make a final decision because it is a non-binding notification and the board could change its mind in February and tell the townships then that it won't be on the ballot. A yes vote now would let the new board weigh in and make the final decision.
For the Public, Monday Night is a Chance to be Heard
Monday's School Board special session agenda includes one item: the EIT. There is a time for public comment included on the agenda before the vote.
It may be the last chance the public has to comment on the Earned Income Tax. At least this time around.
The meeting is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. in The Conestoga High School cafeteria.
The meeting to discuss the EIT follows a school board finance committee meeting in which the committee will start work on next school year's budget.
Editor's Note: A previous version of the story incorrectly identified Debbie Bookstaber as a Democrat. She is a Repubican. Patch regrets the error.