Chesterton Tribune


School referendum raises tax rates for Duneland in 2013

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Last week, the Indiana Department of Local Government finance issued the Porter County Budget Orders and Final Tax Rates for the 2013 property taxes.

In Duneland, it should come as little surprise that each of the taxing units saw a bump in their tax rates. A narrow majority of voters said “yea” to a referendum last May raising the tax rates by 22 cents per $100 of assessed value to keep the Duneland School Corporation’s operating budget from declining further and causing drastic cuts.

The Duneland School Board voted to use the maximum 22-cent rate for this year, but said it looks to take less each following year until the referendum ends in 2019.

Rates in Duneland ranged from 1.6929 in Jackson Twp to 2.8943 in Portage City-Westchester Twp.

Tax rates were generally up in the county with Hebron (Boone) having the top rate of 3.0760. The lowest is Pine Twp.-Michigan City School Corporation with a rate of 1.0019.

The state also listed the countywide homestead credit at .090485 for 2013 taxes.

Tax caps

County Auditor Robert Wichlinski said there are many reasons tax rates will either decline or increase, and a referendum would certainly be one of them.

Wichlinski added that school referendums are not at all affected by the state’s “1-2-3” caps on property taxes– one percent maximum on homestead residential properties, two percent on agricultural and rental properties, and three percent on commercial, Wichlinski said.

When it comes to determining a tax rate, the Indiana Department of Local Government Finance will set the certified levy and issue a budget order. The rate will then depend on the taxing unit’s total assessed value. As the levy increases and the AV goes down, the more the state will have to raise the rate, Wichlinski said.

Tax rates are computed by dividing the total tax levy by the total net assessed value, which is then divided by 100.

When taxpayers get their 2012 pay 2013 tax bills in the spring, there will be several different rates including the county, the school district, the township, and in some cases city/town, libraries, fire departments, conservancy districts and redevelopment commissions.

County Treasurer Mike Bucko said that taxpayers can find instructions on how their bill was calculated when they receive their bill.

A county Tax Bill Estimator feature is on the DLGF’s website,

Wichlinski added that as rates go up, the closer properties will come to hitting their caps and therefore stymieing the tax levies. Now that the tax caps are part of the Indiana State Constitution, Wichlinski advised local governments to plan for the future and try to stay within the financial limits.

“You can’t have your cake and eat it too,” said Wichlinski.

Unlike school districts, the state does not give county and municipal governments the option of establishing a referendum to raise rates on property taxes, Wichlinski said.

On-time bills

The DLGF also commented that Porter County is on schedule for on time tax bills. Taxes could be due as early as May 10. Porter County was the 34th county in the state to receive its 2013 budget order and tax rates.

“The certification of the budget order and tax rates sets the stage nicely for on-time tax bills for the fourth consecutive year, continuing the predictable administration of the property tax system,” DLGF Commissioner Micah Vincent said in a press release. “A tremendous amount of collaboration between local and state officials is required to ensure property tax bills go out on time, and it is rewarding to see all the efforts pay off.”

Now that the 2013 budget has been certified by the DLGF, the county auditor is to calculate tax bills, which the county treasurer should mail to taxpayers no later than April 25.

Duneland – highest to lowest

Listed in descending order are the 2013 tax rates along with 2012 rates for comparison (in parentheses):

Portage City-Westchester Twp. – 2.8943 (2.5266)

Porter Town (Westchester Twp.) – 2.7147 (2.4991)

Chesterton-Westchester Twp. – 2.5243 (2.2080)

Chesterton-Liberty Twp. – 2.4593 (2.1469)

Chesterton-Jackson Twp. – 2.4429 (2.1296)

Burns Harbor (WestchesterTwp.) –2.0978 (1.7806)

Dune Acres (Westchester Twp.) – 2.0627 (1.7767)

Westchester Twp. – 1.7875 (1.5045)

Liberty Twp. – 1.7420 (1.4661)

Pine Twp.-Duneland School Corporation – 1.7364 (1.4674)

Jackson Twp. – 1.6929 (1.4126)

Elsewhere in Porter County


Hebron (Boone Twp.) – 3.0760 (3.0637)

Portage City-Portage Twp. – 2.8165 (2.5470)

Valparaiso-Washington Twp. – 2.7808 (2.7730)

Valparaiso (Center Twp.) – 2.6983 (2.6165)

Boone Twp. – 2.4595 (2.4253)

Ogden Dunes (Portage Twp.) – 2.1363 (1.9530)

Kouts (Pleasant Twp.) – 2.1197 (2.0515)

Portage Twp. – 1.9700 (1.7169)

Porter Twp. – 1.7955 (1.5144)

Porter Twp.-West Porter Fire – 1.7808 (1.4802)

Washington Twp. – 1.7875 (1.5045)

Center Twp. – 1.6602 (1.6073)


Pleasant Twp. – 1.6856 (1.7127)

Morgan Twp. – 1.6149 (1.6415)

Union Twp. – 1.5663 (1.7385)

Beverly Shores (Pines Twp.) – 1.3965 (1.7045)

Pines Town (Pines Twp.) – 1.3655 (1.6835)

Pine Twp.-Michigan City School Corporation – 1.0019 (1.2923)



Posted 2/15/2013