Schools going into 2013 with smaller budget

2012-08-27T20:32:00Z 2012-08-28T12:15:20Z Schools going into 2013 with smaller budgetJoyce Russell joyce.russell@nwi.com, (219) 762-1397, ext. 2222 nwitimes.com

PORTAGE | Portage Township Schools officials are looking to spend less in 2013.

It's not because the cost of educating children is going down or that officials are just trying to be more frugal for the fun of it, it's a necessity thanks to tax caps, declining assessed valuation and flat enrollment, said Superintendent E. Ric Frataccia.

Bottom line, he said, when revenues are down, spending must also decline.

The School Board on Monday approved advertising a 2013 budget that's $1.2 million less than the advertised 2012 budget. Where the budget will end up after anticipated state cuts is not known, he said. The 2012 budget was advertised at $78.8 million. Frataccia was unsure what the final budget for this year was after cuts by the state. The 2013 advertised budget is $77.6 million.

What Frataccia said he knows is true is that it is already affecting children.

Class size across the state is getting larger, and Portage is no exception, he said.

School Board President Glenda Owens said the continued decrease in funding for the schools makes approaching the city of Portage over tax increment financing district funding even more important.

Frataccia reported to the board he met with Portage economic development adviser John Shepherd and that the city is willing to negotiate with the schools to possibly provide a rebate on TIF district money.

Schools receive less tax dollars on property within TIF districts than if the property were not in a TIF district. Frataccia said over the past five years, that has meant $3.2 million less to Portage schools in property tax revenue.

Last week the city's Redevelopment Commission approved an expansion of its TIF district to take in 17 additional parcels of property scattered throughout the city.

Frataccia said he soon will begin talks with Mayor James Snyder to begin receiving rebates on lost TIF money beginning Aug. 1, 2013.

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