The Washington Times-Herald

December 12, 2012

Barr-Reeve board learns about tax referendum

By Andrea McCann
Washington Times Herald

MONTGOMERY — Barr-Reeve Community Schools Superintendent Travis Madison updated school board members Tuesday on the timetable for a proposed operating referendum.

The referendum would impose a tax levy to compensate for lost state revenue in the past few years. Madison explained that roughly $300,000 in state funds has been pulled from the school twice. Also, a levy that used to be in place was eliminated in Gov. Mitch Daniels’ tax reforms.

“What we used to do with that levy, we’re attempting to do with the referendum levy,” he said, adding that a fund would be set up for specific school expenditures, and there would be accountability measures set up.

“Expenditures haven’t gone up much since 2002. Fiscally, the corporation has been very responsible.”

He described the referendum as a safety net to maintain the current level of quality education for Barr-Reeve students. What it boils down to, according to the superintendent, is whether or not residents want Barr-Reeve to survive and what it’s worth to them to keep the schools.

The referendum would propose a property tax rate over seven years not to exceed 35 cents per $100 of assessed valuation. For a $100,000 home, that’s $114, he said; on a $200,000 home, it’s $342. Madison said the amount will vary annually, but should never reach the 35-cent maximum. If the 35-cent figure is used, he said, it would amount to $920,000 for that calendar year, based on current assessed value.

“My hope is that we’d never need half the amount in any year,” he said. “That gives me a lot of room to breathe.”

If the referendum fails and Barr-Reeve is consolidated with another school corporation at some point, Madison said residents will inherit the tax rate for that other corporation. He said Barr-Reeve currently is the lowest in the area.

He said the school board will hold a special meeting Jan. 28 to adopt a resolution to place the resolution on a ballot. The following day it’ll be sent to the state Department of Local Government Finance, which will review the resolution language and respond to the corporation within 10 days.

The next step will be to certify the resolution with the approved verbiage to the Daviess County Clerk’s Office. In February and March, Madison will meet with the Election Board to organize and schedule the election.

“The corporation pays for it,” Madison said. “The county clerk thinks we should be able to do it for well under $1,000.”

Public notice will be published April 15, and the special election will be held May 7 with the same hours and polling places as a regular election. Only citizens residing within Barr-Reeve Community Schools Corporation boundaries will vote, so there will be only three voting sites.

In the meantime, there will be opportunities for voters to learn more about the issue.

“We want to provide forums for people to find out as much as possible,” he said. “We want to be as transparent as possible.”

Under personnel, the board accepted five new retirement requests, bringing the total to seven teachers who will retire at the end of the year. New junior high science teacher Trey Showalter was approved as the junior high science academic bowl coach. And custodian Jeff Knepp’s resignation was accepted.

Spring ECA coaches were approved as follows: Nathan Lester, varsity baseball coach; Jarod Miller, junior varsity baseball coach; Eric Yoder, high school baseball assistant; Brian Wagler, volunteer baseball assistant; Chris Winkler, junior high baseball; Josh Swartzentruber, junior high baseball assistant; Kevin Wood, junior high volunteer baseball assistant; Darren Kenney, varsity softball coach; Aubrey Barnard, high school softball assistant; Jeff Jones, Dave Kavanaugh and Mike Pruett, volunteer high school softball coaches; Tony Graber, junior high softball coach; Mandy Hannah, girls varsity tennis coach; Ashley Seal, girls high school tennis assistant; and Kelsie Miller, girls junior high tennis coach.