Governor Mike Pence’s ambition to eliminate local taxes for businesses and
equipment may sound good for firms looking to expand in Indiana but not at
all beneficial for Duneland Schools.
At Monday’s School Board meeting, DSC Superintendent Dave Pruis said that
according to this years’ net assessed values the Porter County Auditor’s
office had submitted, the school corporation could lose more than 25 percent
of its total net assessed value if the business personal property portion is
In 2013, business property values made up $599.2 million of DSC’s $2.4
billion in AV.
If the governor’s plan goes through, the difference in taxes would have to
be picked up by homeowners and will accelerate the time it takes to reach
the circuit breakers, said Duneland Chief Financial Officer Lynn Kwilasz,
and once the caps are hit anything budgeted over that baseline will be
One fund that would take an immediate hit, since it is not subject to the
tax caps, is the referendum fund. With a quarter of the taxes gone, the fund
would see a drop of about $1.4 million, Pruis said. The referendum has been
used to shore up revenues in the schools’ General Fund, which pays for staff
and teacher salaries.
“I think that kind of goes without saying we are not at all in favor of the
plan to 100 percent eliminate business personal property taxes,” said Pruis,
also noting that it would impact city and town governments, township
governments and libraries. “Now, who is that going to benefit?”
Comparing it to the $300 million cuts to education made by former Gov. Mitch
Daniels a few years ago, Pruis said the state has continued to challenge
schools to operate with ever dwindling revenue.
“I think we are doing well, living within our means, but it becomes more and
more difficult to do so when they keep changing the means,” he said.
Board member Ronald Stone said the reason the governor wants to drop the tax
is reportedly so that Indiana will be more competitive for businesses, but
he feels the state should be prepared to address how they are going to
replace lost funds to local governments. He’s heard other news reports that
the tax elimination may be phased in year by year rather than all at once.
Board president Mike Trout said he suspects Pence is “throwing a power bomb
to see where the shrapnel will be.” He figures the state will need to find
an alternate way to get local government and schools their revenue.
Porter County governments could lose up to $25 million in tax revenue, with
schools facing the steepest declines. Kwilasz said that Duneland would be
one of the most affected school corporations in the state, since it has a
large net AV with the steel mills and many businesses within its borders.
Pruis said that he’s heard reports of legislators saying that counties could
look to raise their income tax rates to cover the windfall. Income taxes
would only benefit county government however, he said. The only option for
schools to receive additional funding is through a referendum fund.
Board member and former state legislator Ralph Ayers said it would be
worthwhile to let the legislators representing Duneland hear of their
Trout asked Pruis and the school administration to keep the board informed
on matters related to the possible tax cuts.
2014 preliminary budget arrives early
In other budget news, DSC got an early holiday gift from the Indiana
Department of Local Government Finance -- its preliminary budget order for
Kwilasz reported that many of the items advertised were equal or close to
amounts the state plans to certify and DSC is satisfied with the results.
School officials advertised the budget at $64,397,556 and the certified
total budget is $63,294,127 with the only major difference in the Capital
The CPF fund had been set higher to capture the most funding as possible at
$10.5 million and the state indicated it will certify the fund at $9.4
Duneland advertised the total tax rate at $1.357 and the preliminary order
shows the rate to be certified at $1.0817. The referendum rate will be the
full 22 cents per $100 of assessed valuation and will generate $5.58 million
for the schools.
Pruis commented that this is the first time in 13 years Duneland received
its budget order this soon. Traditionally they are to arrive by
Also, the board approved donation amounts that have been collected since
June totaling $14,869. Donated were $609 to Jackson Elementary, $1,975 to
Yost, $10,000 to Liberty Intermediate, $1,395 to Westchester Intermediate
School, and $890 to Chesterton High School.
The board approved a unanimous recommendation by Duneland’s employee
benefits review committee to accept rates from Anthem Blue Cross and Blue
Shield for Duneland employees.
Pruis said there are increases in the co-pay amounts this next year. Doctor
office visit co-pays will be raised from $10 to $25, emergency room visits
$75 to $125, and $35 to $50 for a visit to urgent care.
Retail pharmacy medication costs will be $15 for generic, $34 for brands and
$54 for non-formulaic. Medications through Anthem will be $30 for generic,
$60 for brands and $90 for non-formulaic.
The out-of-pocket deductible costs and premiums will be the same next year
as 2013, Pruis said.
Pruis also mentioned that 37 percent of active and retired employees have
used the services at the new Duneland Wellness Center, which is slightly
below the first year target of 40 percent. The number of dependents using
the center is also near its target of 30 percent, he said.
Meanwhile, Assistant Superintendent of Operations Monte Moffett prepared a
list of appointments and resignations in DSC.
Andrew Prater will be CHS’s new ISS supervisor following in the footsteps
T.R. Harlan, who resigned this past month. Also at CHS, Dan Paff has been
hired as the new assistant freshman basketball coach and Alex Boatwright as
the new freshman wrestling coach.
For the Duneland Schools, Louise C. Diederich will be an administrative
assistant in the DSC’s Business Office. Delbert Pullins has been contracted
as a bus driver. Nancy Funk and Susan Meyer have been hired as cooks
helpers, Janette Pinnell as a custodian, and Daniel Cromwell as a
At Yost Elementary, Tammy Mora and Arielle Watson will be instructional
aides. Heather Friday will be a remediation aide at Jackson Elementary.
Brenda Yuste-Gonzalez has been appointed as an ESL Aide at Liberty
Resigning are maintenance technician Ryan Mottinger, cooks helper Sandra
Murphy, Liberty Elementary ESL Aide Julie Wright and technology aide Kenneth
Taking child care leave this month are Bailly Elementary first grade teacher
Tonya Earle and Liberty Elementary third grade teacher Martha Hiestand.
The school board will hold its reorganization meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 8
at the DSC Administration Center.