Edinburgh schools moves forward with plans for referendum

EDINBURGH — Edinburgh schools is moving forward with its plan to ask district residents to pay more in property taxes to fund additional certifications and teachers.

The school board initially considered a 40-cent tax hike for every $100 of assessed property value, but settled on a 39-cent figure, as that was the smallest increase that would raise the $700,000 needed each year to fund the district’s goals, said Ron Ross, superintendent.

Programming improvements would include pursuing certification in science, technology, engineering and math — or STEM — at Edinburgh Community High School and Edinburgh Community Middle School, to join East Side Elementary School, which is already STEM certified. The district would also hire a teacher for English language learners.

Now, district leaders will have conversations with auditors in Bartholomew and Johnson counties, who will review the percentage and finances behind it. It will then head to the Indiana Department of Local Government Finance, which will review the exact wording of the referendum question. Once the referendum question and exact proposed tax hike are finalized by those two entities, the school board will vote, likely in January, on whether to put it on the May 2022 election ballot, Ross said.

The tax hike would affect voters in Blue River and German Townships, and would raise an estimated $701,590 each year. The owner of a $96,800 home, which is the median home value in the district, would pay an additional $9.97 a month, while the owner of a $200,000 home would pay an additional $31.77. All figures are estimates from Baker Tilly U.S. LLP, a Chicago-based public accounting and consulting firm.

Other successful referendums, such as those at Clark-Pleasant and Franklin schools, cover an eight-year time frame, after which the property tax hike ceases.

Because property values in Edinburgh are less than they are in Franklin, for example, and fewer people live in Edinburgh, a greater percentage property tax hike is needed to raise the amount of money that is needed. Franklin schools has $4.4 million of referendum money to work with next year from a 23-cent tax hike. At Clark-Pleasant schools, a 10-cent tax hike will raise about $2.1 million next year.