Daugherty explains about life of tax increase

In the last regular meeting before the municipal election, the Huntington County Community School Corporation Board of Trustees conducted business quickly Monday, Oct. 21.

A shortened agenda did not include any items regarding the two upcoming referendum questions that will appear on the ballot for all Huntington County voters to decide on Nov. 5.

Since the issue was not on its agenda, a question from Carl Meitzler during the public comment portion of the meeting wasn’t addressed by the board. Board President Matt Roth said the board could not talk about it in the meeting because it wasn’t on the agenda.

However, School Superintendent Chad Daugherty talked with Meitzler after the meeting about his concerns about the proposed tax increases to fund new construction for Huntington North High School and operating funds that include raises in teacher salaries.

“If this passes – I don’t know how much money you guys need – is it going to be a tax that is going to be forever? Is it going to pay off the debt that you need and then are you guys going to eliminate the tax?” Meitzler asked.

Daugherty says he explained to him that if the building project referendum question passes, then after 17 years the tax increase would “drop off.”

“Then the taxes will be lowered back to the normal rate in 17 years,” Daugherty says.

The tax increase that would be created by the operations project question is for eight years.

“We would ask again to renew that one, because that takes care of teacher retention and teacher pay, and to support the additional resource officers for safety,” he added. “That one would come back to the taxpayers in eight years.”

Daugherty says if it passes, taxpayers will not see an increase in their taxes on the building referendum until after the high school addition has been built.

“If the project takes two-and-a-half or three years, then that payment would not start until the project is completed,” he says. “It will not have an impact on the taxpayer until the Huntington North project is completed, which means then you’d only pay in 17 years on the project.”

The school corporation had consistently sought public input during two informational meetings held on the referendum questions, as well as public hearings during board meetings. They invited community members to contact their school board representative before they authorized the questions and sending them to the state to be reviewed, prior to their addition to the county’s ballot.

The first referendum question, also known as the “Operating Question,” will appear on the ballot as:

“For the eight (8) calendar years immediately following the holding of the referendum, shall the Huntington County Community School Corporation impose a property tax rate that does not exceed six cents ($0.06) on each one hundred dollars ($100) of assessed valuation and that is in addition to all other property taxes imposed by the school corporation for the purpose of funding academic and educationally-related programs, managing class sizes, school safety initiatives, and attracting and retaining teachers?”

The second question, known as the “Project Question,” is:

“Shall Huntington County Community School Corporation issue bonds or enter into a lease to finance the 2020 Safety, Security, Replacement, and Restoration Project, which includes the renovation of and improvements to Huntington North High School, and other related campus improvements, which is estimated to cost not more than $68,480,000 and is estimated to increase the property tax rate for debt service by a maximum of $0.3381 per $100 of assessed valuation?”

All registered voters in Huntington County are eligible to vote on the questions. Both questions will be answered by a simple “Yes” or “No” response on the ballot.

In other business, several changes in policies were addressed on their first reading. Daugherty said the revisions bring them up to code.

The 20 policies address issues including employment of the superintendent; personal background checks, references and mandatory reporting of convictions and substantiated child abuse and arrests; latch-key programs; student suicide awareness and prevention; graduation requirements; use of seclusion and restraint with students; child abuse and neglect; and religious/patriotic ceremonies and observances.

The second reading and vote to adopt the policies will be held at the next regular board meeting on Nov. 12.

The board also unanimously approved a memorandum of understanding with Ivy Tech for $22,18581 to provide education and training in industrial welding at the Huntington Learning Center for the 2019-20 school year. HCCSC will be reimbursed for some of the tuition costs.
Daugherty said the corporation is looking into hiring its own welding instructor at the end of this year. There are 11 students currently in the industrial welding class, which he said is at capacity.