(Editor’s Note: In this article and others to follow, North Adams Community Schools officials explain why they are seeking approval of a $1.25 million funding increase from taxpayers. The newspaper welcomes all comments on this issue. Please address them to: Referendum Peoples Voice.)
Times are tough. Expenses keep going up — even for schools — and state and local revenues are expected to continue in decline. A General Referendum may be a necessary revenue-generating measure, but exactly how much is it going to cost me?
The basis upon which property tax is calculated depends upon several factors. There are individual tax assessments levied by the county, the township, the school district, the city, the library and for special district purposes, respectively. To answer the question posed above, we will look only at the impact of changes in school district levy rate. Interestingly, in the past three years, those rates have steadily fallen.
In 2008, the last year that General Fund revenue was generated locally, the school district tax levy rate was $1.7286 per $100 assessed value. The years since have seen rates of $1.3394 (2009), $1.2729 (2010) and $1.2312 (2011). For a property having a Gross Assessed Value of $200,000, this translates to a cumulative savings in property tax payment of $396.86 plus $67.81 plus $ 42.52 — which equals $507.19.
North Adams' proposed General Referendum of $0.2045 per $100 will raise the school district levy rate to $1.4357 for 2012, and will cause an increase in tax payment of $236.97 for the $200,000 property. When you add up the savings since 2008 against the first-year cost for supporting education, the net is a savings of $270.22. One might say that the savings garnered from 2008 through 2011 permit the first two years of the referendum to be funded at a net zero cost.
How does this translate to your property tax calculation? The Department of Local Government Finance (DLGF) has been asked that question so many times in the past year that it has provided a calculator at its website. Go to HYPERLINK "http://www.in.gov/dlgf/4932.htm" www.in.gov/dlgf/4932.htm  then double-click on the listing “Referendum Impact Calculator”and you will find yourself on the calculator page.
Select “Adams” as your county and “North Adams Community Schools” as the referendum of interest, then enter the Gross Assessed Value of your property. Finally, select the property type from the pulldown list, select whatever deductions are applicable and punch the “Estimate Referendum Impact” button. The annual tax increase as a result of the referendum will be calculated, along with the total amount of taxes to be paid for the referendum over the entire seven-year course of the program.
Can you afford the increase in taxes? How much is quality education worth to you?
Please direct questions to North Adams Community Schools, Wylie Sirk, Superintendent at 724-7146 or email@example.com .