Superintendent will ask for .5-cent increase

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Rate will provide local revenue close to 2012-13

By Todd Martin

The Shelby County School Board next week will be asked to approve a half-cent, compensatory increase in property taxes.

Shelby County Public Schools Superintendent James Neihof gave the board a preview of the levy he plans to request at the next meeting, at 7 p.m. Aug. 29 at the district offices, 1155 Main St. in Shelbyville.

“The commitment I made last fall was that we would design a budget so that I could recommend the compensating [tax] rate, and that’s what I intend to do,” Neihof told the board. “This year, that rate is half a cent higher and is designed to provide equal fundingto the prior year. We’re not expecting it to actually be equal to last year’s revenue because of an unexpected increase in the amount received from Public Service revenue, but instead we’re expecting it to be about six hundred thousand less this coming year. However, because of the work of the budget committee, we are prepared to endure that.”

Neihof said that solving the funding and revenue problem for the 2013-14 school year was doable, but if you look forward, it is not.

 “We solved the problem this year, but this board needs to send a consistent message to the state that we need some relief,” he said. “Our SEEK rate is lower than the 2008 rate, and districts can’t make these changes [the state is requiring] with local revenue. We’re doing more now in public education than we’ve been doing in my career, and we’re being asked to do it with less and less.

“We need to ask our legislators, with respect, to solve the revenue stream issues in public education.”

In the report, District Director of Finance Greg Murphy explained that the compensation rate isn’t the same rate as the previous year but instead is designed to provide the same revenue as the year before. That explains the increase of .5 cents.

If approved, this half-a-penny increase, .7 percent, would increase the school district’s tax rate to 72 cents per $100 of assessed value on real estate and personal property tax. The motor vehicle tax rate, 46.5 cents per $100, and utility tax rate of 3 percent remain the same. Because the tax increase was less than 4 percent it does not require a public vote.

The proposed increase would add $5 to the tax bill of a home valued at $100,000, bringing the total to $720 in real estate taxes levied by the school district.

The increase in revenue from the real estate and personal property is not expected to cover the expected decrease in Public Service Company revenue.

“We expect that to be about six hundred thousand dollars lower this year than last year,” Murphy told the board. “Last year’s Public Service Company revenue was unusually high, and it’s very difficult to predict. We can’t assume that it will be that high again.”