State board gains new powers to help financially distressed schools, governments

2012-09-18T18:15:00Z 2012-09-18T19:26:05Z State board gains new powers to help financially distressed schools, governmentsDan Carden dan.carden@nwi.com, (317) 637-9078 nwitimes.com
September 18, 2012 6:15 pm  • 

INDIANAPOLIS | The state board that let Gary exceed Indiana's property tax caps for three years to help straighten out the city's finances has a new mission.

A reconstituted Distressed Unit Appeals Board will meet for the first time Thursday to review petitions from three central Indiana school corporations seeking to restructure their debts.

Legislation enacted earlier this year — and sponsored by state Sen. Ed Charbonneau, R-Valparaiso — empowered the board to assist schools in financial trouble with emergency loans and debt restructuring.

Local governments in severe financial distress also can ask the board to appoint an emergency manager with wide-ranging powers to reduce spending. To date, no local governments have asked the new board for help.

Gary was the only municipality to seek DUAB assistance when state property tax caps were enacted in 2008. The city received permission to charge a higher property tax rate from 2009 through 2011 to cushion the revenue-limiting impact of the caps.

The board lost its ability to authorize tax-cap waivers when an amendment adding the caps to the Indiana Constitution took effect this year.

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