Tax caps still impacting schools after 5 years

File Photo.
File Photo.

KOKOMO, Ind. (AP) — School districts across Indiana are still struggling to compensate for revenue lost to statewide property tax caps that went into full effect in 2010, and some leaders say the range of losses has made it difficult to operate.

The tax caps, also known as a circuit breaker, have cut some districts’ funding by $47,000 and others’ by nearly $8 million over the last five years, according to the Indiana Department of Local Government Finance.

“It’s a very large inequity,” Stanley Hall, director of finance and operations for Peru Community School Corp., told the Kokomo Tribune. “The schools north and south of us have typically twice as much to spend per student on transportation.”

Peru has lost more than $2.3 million since the circuit breaker took effect. The Kokomo School Corp. has lost $7.95 million. That’s left the districts scrambling to fund transportation, capital projects and pensions and pay debts.

Schools within city limits have typically been harder hit by the caps because more entities are competing for property tax revenue, which is limited to 1 percent of the assessed value for homestead properties; 2 percent for residential properties, agricultural land and long-term care facilities; and 3 percent for nonresidential properties and personal property.

Dave Barnes, communications director for the Kokomo School Corp., said the district is working with an average of $1.6 million less each year because of the caps.

“Kokomo Schools has reduced expenditures on construction-related projects paid for from our Capital Projects Fund,” Barnes said.

Hall said the revenue loss in Peru has forced the district to eliminate five of its 17 bus routes and reduce driver pay from $22 an hour to about $17 per hour.

The cuts, combined with declining enrollment, also have led to staffing cuts, mostly through attrition, he said.

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Information from: Kokomo Tribune, http://www.ktonline.com

 

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