Batesville Herald Tribune, Batesville, Indiana

October 11, 2013

Taxes for schools should remain steady

Debbie Blank The Herald-Tribune
The Batesville Herald-Tribune

---- — The Batesville Community School Corp. budget is projected to rise by 3.37 percent or $678,351 in 2014 to $20.77 million, Tim Hunter, director of buildings and grounds, told trustees Sept. 16 at a public budget hearing.

He reported, “Our net assessed valuation history has been around the $650 million mark.” When it dropped to $643 million in 2013, “hopefully this is as low as it will go.” The director predicted the valuation would trend higher in 2014.

Although advertised property tax rates have been between 90 cents and $1 per $100 of assessed valuation from 2010-14, Hunter pointed out the actual rates have been lower: 73 cents in 2010 and 2012 and 70 cents in 2011 and 2013.

BCSC compared favorably to surrounding school districts in a 2013 tax rate chart that was part of the PowerPoint presentation. From least to greatest rates: Decatur County, $.5745; Batesville: $.6935; Jac-Cen-Del, $.7315; South Ripley, $.9631; Franklin County, $1.0015; Milan, $1.0585; and Sunman-Dearborn, $1.3325.

Hunter expects the BCSC rate to be around the 70-cent range again in 2014.

The BCSC budget contains five tax-supported funds. The largest is the General Fund, which, if approved, would rise about 3.5 percent to $13.78 million, “primarily related to staffing,” Hunter explained. The good news: “We expect our revenues (from the state for this fund) to increase for a couple of reasons. We are continuing to grow our enrollment. As we get more students, we get more money from the state basic grant.” Also, because BCSC’s appropriation based on a per student formula is lower than surrounding districts, “that is being ratcheted up.”

The Capital Projects Fund would grow the most, 4.9 percent, increasing to $3.44 million. These dollars pay for a big portion of IT staffing and equipment, facilities improvements, outsourced services, maintenance contracts and a portion of utilities and property and casualty insurance, the director said. While this fund is limited by a maximum property tax rate of 34 cents for each $100 of assessed valuation, it also gains money from excise and financial institution taxes.

With a projected 1.2 percent decrease, the Debt Service Fund is budgeted at $1.66 million next year. Money from this fund will pay back three debts: a 1998 bond issue that allowed Batesville High School and Batesville Middle School additions; a 2011 bond issue for the Batesville Intermediate School addition and renovation and BHS upgrade; and the $1 million investment in Ivy Tech Community College’s Batesville expansion.

The Transportation Operating Fund will go up 1.9 percent to $1.63 million. Dollars here are allotted for contracted transportation costs, bus drivers’ salaries, fuel, bus maintenance and insurance costs. According to Hunter, “This fund is limited by a growth in the levy we can raise. For 2014, the levy cannot grow more than 2.6 percent.” Property tax dollars will be added to other miscellaneous revenue.

The accumulating School Bus Replacement Fund will increase 20 percent to $245,000. The 2014 plan shows purchases of three bus replacements: one 84-passenger, one special needs and one 66-passenger spare. Currently the fund contains about $200,000, enough to buy the three vehicles next year. “There are a few years we don’t replace any.”

No citizens’ commented about the upcoming budget. The board will consider adopting it Oct. 21 at 6 p.m. at the Batesville Middle School commons, according to Hunter.

Debbie Blank can be contacted at debbie.blank@batesvilleheraldtribune.com or 812-934-4343, Ext. 113.