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NH 2021 tax rate likely to match 2020

Property owners in the North Harrison Community School Corp. district can expect next year’s tax rate that goes toward the school corporation to be about the same as this year’s rate, 78 cents per $100 of assessed value, pending approval by the Indiana Dept. of Local Government Finance.
NH 2021 tax rate likely to match 2020 NH 2021 tax rate likely to match 2020
Jo Ann Spieth-Saylor, Editor, [email protected]

Property owners in the North Harrison Community School Corp. district can expect next year’s tax rate that goes toward the school corporation to be about the same as this year’s rate, 78 cents per $100 of assessed value, pending approval by the Indiana Dept. of Local Government Finance.

Dr. Lance Richards, superintendent of the NHCSC, presented figures during the 2021 budget hearing Thursday night in the North Harrison Middle School cafeteria. The hearing was followed by the school board of trustees’ regular meeting.

Presenting his “property tax math,” Richards said he will advertise a rate of $1.56 per $100 of assessed value because, once a rate is advertised, it cannot be increased; however, it can be lowered, which is normally the case.

“You have to advertise high as you can when you make your budget … because you don’t know what your assessed value will be” of property within the school district, he said.

Other reasons for advertising high include having funds to protect and maintain the cash balances, to guarantee the maximum levy, to ensure sufficient appropriates and to allow for any state calculation errors.

The district’s total assessed value for 2020 is $502,416,284. Based on 78 cents per $100 of assessed value, that puts the tax levy at $3,918.848.

“We’re always thinking in terms of academic year,” Richards said.

However, the budget is based on the calendar year, with the funds spent during the school year.

Based on changes made in 2019, school corporations have three main funds: Education, Operations and Debt Service.

The Education fund is state supported and is based on enrollment.

Richards said North Harrison’s enrollment has “dribbled down” through the years. It was at 2,198 in 2017, 2,180 in 2018, 2,150 last school year and currently at 2,133 this year. (The official count date will be Friday followed by a second count date in February.)

Based on 2020 enrollment figures, the 2021 budget would receive $14,104,500 for the Education fund.

The proposed budget for next year calls for $2,762,085 for the Debt Service fund and $5,850,000 for the Operations funds, which are used to buy new buses, pay for transportation costs and for capital projects.

The Debt Service fund will see some reductions in coming years as projects are paid for, starting with the Morgan Elementary School renovation in 2024, the North Harrison Elementary School remodeling in 2027 and the Middle School project in 2032.

“It’s been the goal of the board to keep our tax rate steady,” Richards said.

After 2008 and 2009, when the tax rate was $1.4128 and $1.509, respectively, it has been as low as 61.93 cents in 2016 and as high as 84.44 cents in 2012.

A new subdivision, expected to have both single- and multi-family dwellings as well as some businesses, being constructed near the intersection of state roads 135 and 64, is expected to increase the tax base for the school district.

“The rate really isn’t an issue,” Richards said. “It’s what’s your assessed value.”

During the regular meeting that followed the budget hearing, four resignations/retirements were approved: Kimberly Pullen as a Title I instructional assistant at NHES; Cassidy Smith as a P.E. instructional assistant at NHES; Jade Spalding, as instructional assistant at NHES; and Karen Trent, as cafeteria staff at MES.

Appointments approved were for Baylie Sawicki, as a Title I instructional assistant at NHES; Tina Blocher, Lacy Smith and Sara Yost, NHES instructional assistants; Yost, middle school boys’ tennis coach; Devan Smith, NHES P.E. instructional assistant; Jackie Corbin, fifth- and sixth-grade cheer coach; Jill Sieg, seventh- and eighth-grade cheer coach; Kandace Troxell, fifth- and sixth-grade volleyball coach; Mallory Ness, seventh-grade volleyball coach; Jaden Wingler, eighth-grade volleyball coach; Kevin Fessel, NHMS football coach; and Tate Griffin, Devin Carter and Jacob Murphy, co-coaches for seventh-grade football.

Cassie Anderson was approved for a leave of absence for the remainder of the 2020-21 school year.

During board member communications, Gregg Oppel said it was nice to see so many former students return to be a part of the school staff.

Trustee Steve Hanger thanked the school administrators and staff for helping to keep everyone safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Please hang in there and keep doing what you’re doing,” he said.

“I think we’re doing a pretty job compared to other places,” added Marla Adams, who presided over the meeting while board president Veronica Battista joined the meeting virtually.

Richards expressed his appreciation for how well students have done with wearing their masks and practicing social distancing.

“We still need to remain vigilant,” he said. “I’m proud of how our community is handling it.”

A pitch was also made for bus drivers, substitute teachers, custodians and cafeteria staff.

The board’s next regular meeting is scheduled for Thursday, Oct. 8, at 7 p.m.

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