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North Harrison anticipates lower tax rates

Property owners in the North Harrison Community School Corp. district can expect to receive tax bills this year that will be lower than last year, according to rates approved by the Indiana Department of Local Government Finance.
However, next year’s tax bills will be higher, but at a rate where they should be, school officials said.
North Harrison Superintendent John Roeder presented the tax rate Thursday, Feb. 10, during the school board’s regular meeting.
The approved tax rate totals just shy of 80 cents per $100 of assessed value.
Roeder said the tax levy for the five funds ‘ Debt Service, School Pension, Capital Projects, Transportation and Bus Replacement ‘ will raise $3,158.812. Last year’s levy raised $5,933,314.
The difference, which Roeder called ‘significant,’ was in the Debt Service fund.
Funding from other sources, such as $928,327 from the Harrison County Council to apply to debt reduction and $500,000 from the North Harrison Elementary School Holding Corp., was factored into the equation.
Last year, an oversight in the tax rate created an usually high rate for property owners. To help ease that burden, the school board directed that $1 million be cut from the Bus Replacement fund and transferred to the 2011 budget.
‘Taxes will increase in 2012, as we will have a Debt Service tax rate increase,’ Roeder said. ‘Any Bus Replacement tax levy will provide a 2012 tax increase since we only had a tax levy of $43,044 for 2011.’
The superintendent cautioned that the school corporation can’t count on other tax sources, such as county government and the holding corporation.
‘There are some other factors, too,’ he said, ‘but those are the main ones. … We can only make a projection.’
Former school trustee Gary Byrne questioned the appeal process for the tax rate, adding that he had ‘no problem’ with the rate itself.
Byrne said that promises were made regarding how much would be raised, and he hoped that next year the school trustees start with the $5.5 million promised by past boards.
‘It’s very clear … that the tax rate next year will be higher,’ Michael Beyerle said. ‘When you get the tax bill this year, it’s going to be lower. … Next year, it’s going to be back to where it should be.’
Jerry Renneker, during board member communications, said he talked with people from other Midwest states at a recent convention who asked him about the recently settled contract dispute.
‘They asked me if I was pleased with the outcome,’ he said, stating that he told them, ‘Not really’ but he was glad that chapter of the school corporation’s history was closed. He added he was pleased that North Harrison would not be facing budget cuts like some other school corporations.
‘I think next year will be tough,’ Renneker said. ‘Any more state cuts will make it tough.’
During appointments, Beyerle made a motion to approve 12 of the 13 appointments, eliminating Gregg Oppel as North Harrison High School varsity baseball coach for the 2010-11 school year. Renneker seconded the motion, which failed 2-3.
Steve Hanger then made a motion, seconded by Marla Adams, to approve all 13 appointments. That motion passed with Veronica Battista voting in the affirmative with Hanger and Adams; Beyerle and Renneker voted against.
The other appointments (for the 2010-11 school year unless noted otherwise) besides Oppel were Kate Harmon as secretary at North Harrison High School, effective Feb. 7; Lisa Roll as part-time cook at North Harrison Elementary School, effective Feb. 10; Robert Higdon as golf coach at North Harrison Middle School; Jason Mullis, NHMS boys’ track coach; Shelly Robertson, NHMS girls’ track coach; Jackie Sauerheber, NHMS girls’ track volunteer coach; Travis Beals, NHHS assistant girls’ track coach; Miranda Melton, NHHS assistant boys’ track coach; Ross Schulz, NHHS boys’ golf coach; Joe Kellum, NHHS varsity boys’ track coach; Mark Lamon, NHHS varsity assistant softball coach; and Tony Young, NHHS assistant softball coach.
In other matters, the trustees:
‘Approved, 4-1 (Beyerle against), an administrative stipend pay increase for 2005 through 2012. The stipend will not affect the administrative contracts as an ongoing salary increase. Approved was a 1-percent stipend for the school years 2004-05 through 2009-10 and a 2-percent stipend for the 2010-11 and 2011-12 school years. This matches the stipends approved last month for the teachers. When Beyerle questioned how Roeder’s stipend would work since he was hired mid-school year, the superintendent said his would be done by half years.
‘Approved, 5-0, hiring Lance Richards, principal at Morgan Elementary School, as assistant superintendent, effective June 1. He will succeed Dr. Ken Oppel, who died Dec. 31 after a short battle with cancer.
‘Accepted, 5-0, Lynn Curts’ resignation, effective Feb. 4, as secretary at North Harrison High School.
‘Approved, 5-0, a family medical leave for MES instructional assistant Jane Haas.
‘Appointed, by a 5-0 vote, Steve Hanger to represent North Harrison on the Harrison County Alternative School board. The appointment is through Dec. 31, 2012.
‘Approved, 5-0, the purchase of four 2012 Freightliner 78-passenger school buses, for $90,719.34 each, and one 2012 Thomas 54-passenger with wheelchair lift bus for $103,539.34. The purchase totals $466,416.70.
‘Ratified, 4-0-1 (Beyerle abstained), agreements with all 18 contracted school bus drivers to extend their individual transportation contracts for four years with no pay rate increase except for a one-time (first-year) stipend.
‘Approved, 5-0, addendums to the bus routes of Nancy Adams, Heather Luther, Tom Luther and Roberta Luther, all retroactive to the first day of the 2010-11 school year.
‘OK’d, 5-0, the advertisement for a temporary loan in the amount of $1.5 million to be used in 2011. When asked by Beyerle if he would come back to the board before taking out the loan, Roeder responded yes, that the bids will brought before the board.
Next month’s school board meeting will take place at Morgan Elementary School, on Thursday, March 10, at 7:30 p.m.