Arcadia seeks income tax renewal

Arcadia School is asking its community to continue supporting it through an income tax.
The school district placed a 1 percent income tax renewal on the May 6 ballot. The tax has been in place since 2004, said Laurie Walles, superintendent.
The new tax would last five years and revenue would go toward operational costs for the district such as textbooks, supplies, transportation costs and maintenance.
“It’s not an increase, it’s what they’ve been paying for the past 10 years,” Walles said.
The tax provides about 13 percent of the district’s general fund revenue. In 2013, it brought in about $742,180, according to school officials.
The money from the income tax helps make up for continually decreasing state funding. From 2008 to 2009, the state provided nearly $2 million in aid to the district, while from 2013 to 2014, the district will receive $1.7 million from the state, according to a presentation by Joel Roscoe, a school finance consultant.
The district’s state funding has declined in recent years because of the district’s increasing property valuation.
The decrease in state funding is a 7 percent difference, but the district isn’t asking for more money from local taxpayers.
“At this time, we don’t want to ask for more than we need,” Walles said.
In total, Arcadia receives about 37 percent of its funding from the state, down from 44 percent in 2009. About 63 percent of the district’s funding comes from local taxes, Walles said.
Arcadia’s school income tax is the second-lowest in Hancock County, with Liberty-Benton’s coming in as the lowest, Walles said.
To help get out the vote, the district hosted a public forum on March 19. The forum was to offer community members and parents information about the district and why it is trying to pass the tax renewal in May.
Hancock County Auditor Charity Rauschenberg spoke at the event about the renewal.
“I think it’s important to have things like this so that we can educate people and so they can see where their tax dollars are going,” Walles said.
The district has also tried to educate community members through its school newsletter, Walles said
If the renewal does not pass in May, it will likely reappear on the November ballot because it is something the district cannot function without, Walles said.
“It’s absolutely necessary for the district,” Walles said. “We hope the community continues to show outstanding support for our schools.”
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