The Duneland School Board moved forward in its annual budget process Monday,
granting administrators permission to advertise the 2014 budgets at a total
The discussions were quieter than years past as the dollar amounts were
comparable to what was budgeted last year. The 2013 budget had been
advertised at $63,525,458 and was certified at $62,616,299.
DSC’s new chief financial officer Lynn Kwilasz said the budgets, along with
levies and tax rates, will be advertised higher than anticipated to so that
the school corporation can achieve the highest amount of funding that can be
appropriated once it is finalized by the Department of Local Government
“It’s a protection mechanism for punitive damages” in case of a lower
assessment in property values to set tax rates high enough to generate
adequate revenues, Kwilasz said.
Tax rates will be advertised for the following budgets that are collected
from property taxpayers: the referendum fund (.2435), the debt service fund
(.3534), the pension debt fund (.0764), the capital projects fund (.4540),
the transportation operation fund (.1960) and the bus replacement fund
The overall sum of the tax rates in the 2014 budget as advertised will be
1.358, comparable to the 2013 advertised amount of 1.2407 which was later
certified at 1.0984.
The estimated maximum amount of funds that can be raised from the levy comes
to $28,568,800. The 2013 certified levy was $26,772,596 after Duneland
advertised a total of $29,793,020.
According to the new budget figures Kwilasz presented (parentheses are the
2013 estimates), the capital projects fund will be advertised at an
estimated $10,500,000 ($10, 378,124), the referendum fund at $5,675,000
($4,782,000), the debt service fund at $7,412,225 ($7,872,512), the school
pension debt fund at $1,601,431 ($1,596,391), the transportation operations
fund at $3,996,900 ($3,866,342), and the bus replacement fund at $667,000
Kwilasz’s estimated total for the 2014 general fund, which pays for
operations and teacher salaries, stands at $34,575,000, which is $195,000
more than advertised for the 2013 budgets. The state has taken control of
the General Fund and provides funding from sales and income tax based on
enrollment beginning in 2009.
The schools hope to replace a total of six buses next year and will hang on
to accumulations in its cash balance to replace more buses in the coming
years. The recent 12-year plan shows transportation directors wish to
replace seven buses in 2017, eight in 2018, and nine in 2019, which could
prove a challenge as replacement costs continue to steadily rise.
Meanwhile in the capital projects fund, $2,559,100 will be advertised for
building acquisition and construction projects. Another $1,851,000 is
estimated for building rentals and $2,318,550 for “other proposed
expenditures” which is where technology expenses now fall, Kwilasz said.
The CPF budget also estimates $611,326 for emergency allocation, $541,500
for utilities and $100,000 for sports facilities.
Schools Superintendent Dave Pruis said Duneland has “been very fortunate” to
be able to advertise for funds in its CPF fund as he mentioned one school
system in the Indianapolis area where the fund is capped at $0. Other
schools in northern Lake County have also been hit hard by tax caps, he
“Over the years our capital projects fund has allowed us to maintain our
facilities,” said Pruis. “We should be in good shape (next year).”
With the board’s authorization, the school will advertise the estimated
budget in the Sept. 4 and Sept. 11 editions of the Chesterton Tribune.
The board will hold a public hearing on Wednesday, Sept. 25, at 6 p.m. at
the DSC Administration Center.
Kwilasz said the advertised budget will be presented to the Porter County
Council for a non-binding review required now by state law.
From the audience, CHS teacher and co-president of the Duneland Teachers
Association Michele Bartels asked if the public will be able to “understand”
why the tax rate in the referendum fund is advertised at .2435 when voters
were asked to approve a rate of .22, or 22 cents per $100 of assessed
valuation, in last year’s referendum.
Kwilasz said the schools are advertising the referendum rate higher than
anticipated in order to capture the full amount of revenue that can be
collected but the state’s certified rate will not exceed 22 cents.
Last year school officials advertised the rate at 22 cents and the state
certified it at .2056 with a levy of $5,292,558 when the schools could have
received up to $5.6 million had they been told by the state they could
advertise a higher rate. The rate dropped because the number was based on an
assessed value higher than what the schools based their 2013 budget on.
The schools are capped at what they advertise, Pruis said.
Kwilasz said she will be prepared to explain the matter to the public who
may question it during the public hearing or anytime during the budgeting
The board will meet next on Sept. 9 for a regular meeting that won’t be
focused on budgeting matters.