Northwest Allen County Schools Business Manager Bill Mallers presented the board with the property tax-supported funds of the district's budget Monday evening, revealing the large hits the district has taken due to property tax caps now in place by state law.
Losses are worse in some funds than others. The district may be forced to use cash savings to operate its 2013 transportation budget, a fund that is estimated to lose about $1 million in 2013 alone. From 2010-2012 the fund saw cuts totaling nearly $800,000. The 2013 transportation budget estimate is $2.9 million.
"The revenue is just not there to support the budget," Mallers said.
With the addition of full-day kindergarten and an increase in enrollment by 160 students, the growing district is transporting more students every year.
Recent state law has also put a cap on the amount districts can use to purchase buses, another problem for a district that is transporting more students than in previous years. Mallers said next year the district will likely have to go through an appeal process to increase its levy in the bus replacement fund to buy additional buses. He said this year the district can make do with 11 spare buses it has.
"We're not just replacing buses, but adding because we'll need it," Mallers said.
In 2013, the district is scheduled to replace seven buses, per its 12-year bus replacement schedule required by the state. The budget is estimated at $681,000, but with a property tax cap loss of $221,000 Mallers said the district will likely only be able to purchase four buses.
NACS 2013 capital projects fund budget will be advertised at $5.7 million. The fund covers building improvements, equipment, utilities and insurance, maintenance and technology. Despite an increased assessed value for the district, Mallers is predicting the actual funds coming in to be closer to $4 million, with a property tax cap loss of about $1.3 million.
The district is looking into some savings that could be seen by switching Cedar Canyon Elementary School's water and sewage service from Huntertown to Fort Wayne City Utilities. The board approved a resolution to allow both operations to submit rate proposals to find a potential cost savings.
Superintendent Chris Himsel said Huntertown has not submitted its proposal yet, but expects the board to make a decision quickly after both sides' rate proposals are submitted.
The 2013 budget, including the general fund and property tax-supported funds, is scheduled for adoption by a board vote on Oct. 8, with a hearing to be held Sept. 10.