FORT WAYNE – Taxpayers residing in the Fort Wayne Community Schools district will see a 3.2 percent increase in their 2013 property tax bills if the school board approves the proposed budget.
The property tax increase means the owner of a $100,000 home would pay about $33 more next year.
The 3.2 percent increase in property taxes is part of a total 5.1 percent increase, or $13.6 million, to the districts budget from 2012. The increase is the result of changes at the local and state level, as well as an increase for the districts voter-approved $119 million building referendum.
The advertised 2013 budget presented Monday night totals about $288 million, but the district is expecting to receive about $279 million after property tax cap losses and decreases in assessed value.
To fund the difference between the budget increase and property tax increase, or about $6.1 million, the district will use general fund cash reserves. The general fund is the only fund not supported by local property taxes but is instead supported by the state in the form of per-student tuition payments.
The cash balance for the district can be used only for general fund expenditures and cannot be used in other funds such as the capital projects fund. The cash is available through cuts the district has made over the years, said Kathy Friend, FWCS chief financial officer.
Friend presented the budget to the district board. A public hearing on the budget will be Oct. 8, with a board vote scheduled for Oct. 22.
She also warned the board that the school funding formula is set to expire June 30, so she could be returning with a new budget before the end of the year to accommodate any further changes the legislature might make.
One percent of the increase to taxpayers is due to legislative changes from 2012 and will be realized in the capital projects fund, the fund devoted to building improvements and maintenance.
The 1 percent equals about $2.4 million in extra funds the district will receive for building upgrades, which Friend said will take care of some issues not included in the $119 million building project and is just for one year.
We know well make good use of this money, she said.
Fifty percent of the upgrades will be roof and heating, ventilation and air conditioning replacements along with general upgrades like door replacements, bathroom improvements and painting.
The $6.1 million in cash balance will be spent mostly on new positions in the district including six new assistant principal positions, an elementary technology coordinator and 10 elementary data trainers.
Of the total, $2.4 million is reserved for the bonuses promised to Leading Educational Achievement with Distinction school teachers for staying at LEAD schools for at least three years.
The proposed 3.2 percent property tax increase is separate from Mayor Tom Henrys proposed 5.7 percent property tax hike in Fort Waynes city budget, which for the average taxpayer would equal an increase of about $2 a month.
Also Monday, the board approved a resolution to extend the deadline for voting on a performance bonus for Superintendent Wendy Robinson to Nov. 27.
Per Robinsons contract, a decision on a performance bonus must be made 90 days after the end of the school year, or Sept. 28 of this year. Because the State Department of Education hasnt released all the data necessary in calculating Robinsons bonus, the board approved a 60-day extension. The extension is for this year only and is not a permanent change in the contract.
Last year, the board approved in a 6-1 vote to give Robinson a $5,498 raise and a $15,000 bonus, bringing her total compensation, including $20,000 in annuity, to $215,000.