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EACS expects tax rates to decrease next year

NEW HAVEN – Enrollment and staffing are down, circuit breaker losses are down and if all goes as projected, the tax rate for East Allen County Schools should decrease slightly next year.

Because assessed valuation figures are still unknown, it’s impossible to evaluate the final effect on the district’s $83 million budget, EACS business manager Kirby Stahly said Tuesday.

“But we should end up in the black,” he said.

Even though the district advertises a higher rate, it is expected to be reduced, and Stahly said he expects a lower tax levy and certified tax rate of $0.9176 per $100 of assessed valuation, compared with the current rate of $0.9309.

That means the owner of a home assessed at $150,000 would pay about $20 less next year.

But farmland assessment and tax rates could increase, Stahly said.

The district’s circuit breaker loss is expected to dip to $713,900, compared with $719,636 this year, he said.

There are a lot of unknowns in planning the budget, including working with unknown assessed valuation and projecting an estimate of the general fund revenue, which is based on official student counts taken in September and February, Stahly said.

The district’s debt will start to see a huge drop beginning in 2017, Stahly said. The current debt of more than $7 million will continue to decrease to under $3 million by 2021.

Another bump in the road, however, may be additional downsizing required because of the imple­mentation of the Affordable Care Act.

In January, companies that employ 50 or more full-time workers – defined as 30 or more hours a week – are required to offer health insurance.

Fort Wayne Community Schools officials made cuts to employees’ hours at the end of last school year.

A budget hearing at East Allen will be held Sept. 16, and the board will finalize the budget in October.