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Referendum Renewal FAQ

Since 1985, Southwest Allen County Schools has been operating with the assistance of a taxpayer-supported operating referendum. Voted on by taxpayers, a referendum creates a property tax rate for the purposes of supplementing the revenue a school district receives from the state. A referendum allows taxpayers to make local decisions about what they think is most important for their schools

The current referendum, approved by taxpayers in 2009, provides the district with $3.5 million each year. Used to fund approximately 52 certified positions, it runs out in December 2016.

The Southwest Allen County School Board has voted to take a $3.5 million referendum renewal, which will keep the tax levy and anticipated property taxes flat, to voters on the May 3, 2016, ballot.

 

Q: What would the referendum renewal fund?

A: The renewal would support district-wide goals of maintaining class sizes, programs, curricular and elective offerings; guidance counseling; and school safety. Specifically, it would supplement the General Fund, providing funds for approximately 52 existing positions:

 

51.86

Certified Full-Time Positions (as follows)

23

Elementary School Teachers

11.5

Middle School Teachers

14.29

High School Teachers

2.08

Counselors

1.0

School Safety Resource Officer

 

 
Q: What is the General Fund?

A: The General Fund is one of seven funds in our annual budget. Funded by state funding dollars, expenditures in the General Fund are for the “general operation” of the school district. The majority of our General Fund (92.41 percent) is for salaries, wages, and benefits. Learn more about the General Fund, and the other funds, in this short Budgeting 101 video.

 

 
Q: Why is the referendum needed? Aren’t state dollars enough?

A: The state determines a fixed funding amount for all public schools based on a per-student basis. The state provides additional dollars based on a district's proportion of low-income students who qualify for free/reduced lunch. Historically, state funding for our district has been one of the lowest in the state. In 2016, SACs funding is projected to be 358th out of the 363 school districts in Indiana. That puts our district in the bottom 2 percent of all schools in Indiana. While SACS is one of the lowest-funded districts in the state, SACS’ performance has consistently been among the best. SACS receives no financial benefit for high performance. Here is a screen shot from our Budgeting 101 video that shows just how SACS funding stacks up against other districts in the state, with and without the referendum. With the referendum, SACS moves from 358th in the state to 275th.

funding ranking

 

 
Q: Does having a referendum mean our district gets less money from the state?

A: No. Referendum dollars are not figured into the state funding formula. It’s also important to note that referendum dollars do not pass through the state, but go directly to our school district from the county.

 

Q: What are property tax caps? Is the referendum subject to the property tax caps?

A: In Indiana, property taxes are capped at 1 percent of assessed value for homesteads, 2 percent for other residential and agricultural properties, and 3 percent for all other real or personal property. Referendum taxes approved by voters are NOT subject to property tax caps. A referendum allows local taxpayers to make local decisions about what they believe is most important to fund for their local schools. 

 
 
Q: Who pays for a referendum? 

A: Only property owners in the SACS school district pay for the referendum. The referendum tax rate is applied to the net assessed value of property after all deductions. Senior citizens, homeowners, and mortgage holders may receive exemptions that lower their assessed valuations.

 

Q: How much would I pay for the referendum renewal?

A: The tax rate for the referendum renewal is expected to be approximately .1300. This means property owners would pay about 13 cents on each $100 of net assessed valuation. This chart gives a few scenarios assuming typical homeowner’s deductions (standard, supplemental, and mortgage) are applied.

With the renewal being at the same levy as the current referendum, taxpayers in Aboite and Lafayette townships are not expected to see an increase in their property tax bills. The referendum renewal will lower the maximum rate from .17 to .15 cents, but will end up with an actual rate of about .13 cents, which matches the current rate.

Assessed Value

Current Annual Referendum Cost

$50,000

$13

$100,000

$42

$150,000

$83

$200,000

$125

$250,000

$166

$300,000

$208

$400,000

$291

$500,000

$374

 

 
Q: Who can vote on the referendum renewal?

A: Registered voters in the SACS district (Aboite and Lafayette Townships) can vote on a referendum renewal. In order to pass, a referendum renewal would take the majority of taxpayers voting “yes” to the ballot question. If passed, the referendum would go into effect January 2017, just as the current referendum expires.

 
 
Q: Do I have to vote in either political party’s primary to vote on the referendum?

A: No. Any voter registered to vote in Aboite or Lafayette Township may ask to vote on just the referendum when they check in at their voting location.

 

Q: What if the referendum is not renewed?

A: If our current referendum is not renewed, we will need to address the loss of nearly $3.5 million dollars of funding annually. Since our referendum dollars are used solely for salaries and benefits of personnel, SACS would need to cut many positions in the district. This would result in increased class sizes and reduced programs for students.

 

If you have a specific question that isn’t answered above, please email SACS Central Office or the SACS School Board directly.

You can also view the January 5 Presentation to the Board here.

 

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