Champaign County voters reject Graham schools income tax increase for fourth time

Voters reject income tax increase for Graham Local Schools.
Voters reject income tax increase for Graham Local Schools.

Champaign County voters have rejected a 1 percent additional earned income tax to help fund Graham Local Schools. The increase was expected to generate $1.9 million for the district.

The measure failed with a vote of 1,717 no and 1,323 yes, according to unofficial results from the Champaign County Board of Elections.

This marks the fourth time the same levy has failed. Voters last rejected the levy in November. At that time, voters said no by more than 400 votes, with 55 percent of votes against and 45 percent for, according to Champaign County Board of Election results.

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“The district’s earned income tax proposal came up short for the fourth time. District officials will now consider next steps to communicate the need for a future levy issue of a different type,” Graham Local School Board President, Ryan Pine, said.

Pine said the district now faces $600,000 in additional cuts, as well as student fee hikes for the 2019/2020 school year.

Graham Local was forced to cut about $1.5 million from its budget after voters rejected the levy in May of last year. The district managed to trim funds to make up the lose by cutting jobs and adding student fees.

“Busing and operating budgets will be further reduced for 2019/2020,” Pine said.

Vice President of the Graham Local Schools Board of Education, Steve Setty, said the need for funding did not go away with the failure of the levy.

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“The district has not had new operating dollars in over 26 years and the budget will remain strained until we do something to increase revenues,” Setty said.

Setty said the levy is not going away.

“Our children and staff deserve to be able to deliver a quality education,” Setty said. “We will be back on the ballot in November, seeking new operating funds in some new form.”

Champaign County had a voter turnout of 18.77 percent, or 4,956 total ballots cast, according to the elections board.

There were two other levies on the ballot in the county — a .6 percent income tax increase for the City of Urbana that would have been used for police, fire, EMS and other city departments and a two-year 0.3 mill levy for Mental Health Drug and Alcohol Services Board of Logan & Champaign Counties.

Both measures also failed.