Hamilton Southeastern school board considers reduced referendum rates


A school-funding referendum was the topic of a June 26 Hamilton Southeastern School District Board of Trustees work session, and the issue is expected to be up for ratification during the board’s July 12 regular meeting.

HSE Chief Financial Officer Katy Dowling led the work-session presentation, where she offered three scenarios for the board to consider, all with a reduced funding rate for the school district.

The current levy for school district funding is .2275 per $100 assessed property value, which generates about $25.6 million. That rate expires at the end of the year. Dowling said that the district needs to consider continually increasing property value assessments when choosing a new rate that the public can support.

“There’s no scenario where we come in without a lesser rate,” she said of the options she prepared for the board.

The first scenario she offered was an approximately 10 percent reduction, or .2047, which would lead to revenue of about $24.5 million; the second was an approximately 12 percent reduction, or a levy of .1997, for revenue of $23.9 million; and the third was about 15 percent, or .1916, with revenue just under $23 million.

Dowling told the board that she’s most comfortable with the second scenario.

Board Member Suzanne Thomas asked whether, for marketing purposes, it would be better to have a rate of .1995 or .1990, rather than .1997.  Dowling said that would be an easy adjustment and would not require creating a new scenario.

Dowling asked if any board members wanted her to bring significantly different scenarios to the July 12 meeting for consideration, and there were no requests.

The board also talked about the language of the referendum that voters would see on the ballot. The proposed amended language was “Shall the Hamilton Southeastern Schools continue to impose increased property taxes paid to the school corporation by homeowners and businesses for eight years immediately following the holding of the referendum for the purpose of essential safety initiatives, maintaining class sizes, retaining and attracting teachers, funding academic and educationally related programs, and changing the previously approved maximum referendum tax rate from $0.2275 to $0.XXXX”

The language was adjusted slightly, to switch “academic and educationally related programs” and “essential safety initiatives.”

Consultant Steve Klink told the board that if the referendum failed to pass Nov. 7, the board could not bring another proposed referendum back to voters for another two years. However, a petition could be filed to bring the issue back within one year.