News From Terre Haute, Indiana

September 10, 2013

School board approves 2014 overall budget

Staff Report
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — The Vigo County School Board on Monday night adopted an overall $148.8 million budget for 2014.

The separate funds are:

n General fund (funded by the state, not local property taxes) — $108.7 million.

n Debt service, $8.5 million.

n Capital projects, $22.7 million.

n Transportation, $6.8 million.

n Bus replacement, $2.1 million.

The $148.8 million is 5 percent higher than the 2013 approved budget of $141.7 million, but officials expect that overall figure to come down several million dollars by the time the budget is finalized by the state’s Department of Local Government Finance (DLGF) sometime next year.

As usual, the district advertises budgets, levies and tax rates higher than anticipated to ensure the school corporation receives adequate revenues to support programs.

The advertised maximum to be raised from local property taxes is $37.6 million for 2014, an inflated figure. The actual approved levy for 2013 was $28.4 million.

The advertised tax rate (before application of property tax replacement credits) is $1.25 per $100 assessed value.

Officials say the tax rate has remained consistent in recent years, and after application of the property tax replacement credit, the 2013 tax rate was 77 cents per $100 assessed value.

Donna Wilson, the school district’s chief financial officer, said after Monday’s short meeting that the proposed 2014 budget “is very much consistent with the past. There is nothing really in there that differs from past years. It’s a budget we can live within and will provide good programming and also allow us to maintain our buildings and our equipment, because those dollars continue to get more and more tight.”

Student enrollment will have an impact on revenues, and some reduction in student numbers is expected.

Property tax caps have cost the district about $3.5 million in revenues annually, with much of the loss being taken out of the capital projects budget. “A few years ago, we did $2 million to $3 million projects every year, but now, tax caps limit our ability to do that,” Wilson said.

The district has done a few smaller projects with short-term general obligations bonds, yet maintained a level tax rate, she said.

The 2014 capital projects fund budget does include $4 million for the renovation of Hoosier Prairie Elementary.