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North of 96th - Lindsey

Welcome to North of 96th, your source for business news from Carmel, Fishers, Noblesville, Westfield and Zionsville. Your host, Lindsey Erdody, can be reached at lerdody@ibj.com.

Boone County / Hamilton County / Regional News

Hamilton Southeastern, Noblesville Schools proposing referendums on May ballots

February 4, 2016

The Hamilton Southeastern School District and Noblesville Schools are proposing to put new funding referendums on the May primary election ballot.

The HSE referendum seeks approval for a tax rate of 22.75 cents per $100 of assessed value, a rate that is on top of property tax levies for capital, transportation and other expenes. The existing 10-cent tax rate, which gives the district an extra $7 million annually, expires at the end of 2016. Voters approved the rate in 2009.

For a $250,000 home, the 10-cent rate costs $130.25 annually. The increased rate would cost the same homeowner an additional $166.07 per year for a total of $296.32. The median home value in Fishers is about $234,000.

The additional funds, estimated to be about $9.7 million annually, would help reduce class sizes by funding salaries for an additional 43 teachers, eliminate sports-participation fees and buy more supplies.

“We want our students to compete at the highest level with any school not only in Hamilton County but across the country and the world,” superintendent Allen Bourff said in a video discussing his proposal to the school board. “The referendum plan is our best strategy to meet those challenges.”

Noblesville’s current tax rate of 21 cents, which voters approved in 2010, is scheduled to expire in 2017.

The district, which includes nearly 10,000 students, is now proposing a rate of 18.9 cents per $100 of assessed value, so property owners will pay less in taxes if the new referendum is approved. For a $200,000 home, the cost would be about $190 per year, which is nearly $23 less than the property taxes imposed under the existing referendum. The median home value in Noblesville is $172,000.

Without approving a new referendum, the district would lose $6 million per year in funding for staff and academic programming.

Noblesville schools will not ask for a continuation of the district's capital referendum, which was approved in 2010 to fund construction of Promise Road Elementary and renovations at several other schools. A capital referendum was also approved in 2013 to relocate East Middle School.

“We’ve been able to provide a high quality service to the community in this climate of funding loss thanks to prudent financial management, including the $1.7 million in budget cuts we recently made and the careful use of the critical referendum dollars we currently receive,” Superintendent Beth Niedermeyer said in a written statement.

The HSE School Board, which oversees the state’s fourth largest district with close to 21,000 students, authorized the referendum on Jan. 25. The board previously had considered putting the referendum on the November 2015 ballots, but delayed the decision in July it at the suggestion of Bourff.

At that time, three options had been presented–keeping the same 10-cent rate or raising it to either 16 cents or 21 cents.

Advance HSE has already started campaigning for the referendum in Fishers, and Miller Yes is the organization supporting the effort in Noblesville.

Primary election day is May 3.

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