Goshen News, Goshen, IN

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March 7, 2013

Large school corporations look at transportation cuts to help cope with property tax caps

GOSHEN — Would you be OK with letting your child walk two or more miles to school?

That may soon be a reality for many families in Elkhart County following news that several of the county’s largest school corporations will take major hits to transportation, capital projects and bus replacement funds for the 2013-14 school year due to state-mandated property tax caps.

Indiana’s Circuit Breaker law was enacted in 2008 as a way to curb the amount of taxes property owners pay annually by limiting property tax bills to 1 percent of homes’ assessed values, 2 percent for farmland and rental property and 3 percent for business property. However, while the tax caps did result in some relief for taxpayers, they also resulted in a significant loss of revenue for local governments and school corporations.

According to projections recently released by the financial advisory firm Umbaugh and Associates, Goshen Community Schools and Concord Community Schools will receive less than half of what they originally anticipated from local property taxes for the coming school year, while Elkhart Community Schools will receive about two-thirds of what it had anticipated.

“When this first started, the state actually tried to help those districts like Elkhart, Goshen, and Concord that were among the top 20 hardest hit in the state percentage-wise,” said Concord Superintendent Wayne Stubbs. “They gave some relief the first couple of years with grants and things like that, so the impact was not so immediate. That has since gone away.”

Stubbs said much of the county’s assessed valuation, or the dollar value assigned to a property for purposes of measuring applicable taxes, has dropped in recent years, resulting in many more property owners hitting their tax caps.

“For almost all of us, our AV has dropped,” Stubbs said. “So that now has made an even larger impact on the funding we receive.”

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Goshen City Council member Dixie Robinson is asking residents to make an effort to clean up their yards this spring. The city’s Dial-A-Truck program is available to haul trash away. Do you think there are more unsightly properties in Goshen this year than five years ago?

Yes. I have noticed more problem properties
No. I have not noticed more problems
I think the problems are about the same as always
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