UNION TOWNSHIP | The Union Township School Board on Wednesday approved a resolution for a referendum that, if passed by voters, will increase property taxes.
The referendum seeks to raise up to $1 million each year for seven years through a maximum property tax increase of 22 cents on each $100 of assessed valuation. The increase is based on the net assessed value of a home, not the gross.
Superintendent John Hunter said after the board's approval the resolution will go to the state Department of Local Government Finance in Indianapolis for its expected approval and returned to the voters registration's and auditor's offices in Porter County.
The Porter County Election Board will set the election date. The referendum likely will be on the May ballot, Hunter said.
If approved by voters, the rate increase will be applicable from 2014 through 2020. A home assessed at $100,000 would have an increase of $65.17 a year. A $200,000 home's increase would be $194.53, and a $300,000 home would be $323.88.
The referendum will be worded so the increase never can be more than 22 cents. However, it could be less. The School Board will set the rate each year based on the anticipated need.
If the tuition support from the state is enough to fund the budget in a given year, the district will not have to raise the tax rate in that year. In other years, the increase could be less than 22 cents.
Earlier this week, Hunter sent an email answering 89 questions submitted by community members at a meeting last month at Wheeler High School. The answers also are posted on the district's website.
The money raised through the referendum will go toward the general fund, the majority of which is used to pay salaries and benefits.
Special education, vocational education, utilities and supplies also come out of the fund.
In 2009, the state assumed funding for each school corporation’s general fund through an increase in sales tax in lieu of property tax.
Sales tax revenue declined as a result of the recession, which in turn reduced funding for schools.
Hunter said Union Township Schools is anticipating a deficit of just more than $1 million for its 2013 budget.
Board Secretary Terry Boehlke said the schools have known the cuts would result in a dire situation.
“The real problem is the funding of schools,” she said. “The politicians are making the school boards (out to) be the bad guys, but I don't think anybody wants to sacrifice our school to prove to them that their funding (formula) isn't working.”