Arcadia school tax renewal approved

By MAX FILBY
STAFF WRITER
ARCADIA — Arcadia School District residents have decided to continue support of their district’s income tax.
Voters narrowly approved renewing a 1 percent income tax on Tuesday by 45 votes. The tax passed with 275 votes, or 54 percent, in favor in Hancock County, compared to 235 votes against it.
“We’re very appreciative,” said Superintendent Laurie Walles. “We’ll use it in the best way possible to educate our kids.”
The tax has been in place since 2004, Walles said.
The new tax will last five years and revenue will go toward operating expenses for the district such as textbooks, supplies, transportation costs and maintenance.
“It’s absolutely necessary for the district,” 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.
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.
The district’s state funding has declined in recent years because of the district’s increasing property valuation. Even with the 7 percent cut in state funding, the district wasn’t asking for more money from local taxpayers.
“It’s not an increase; it’s what they’ve been paying for the past 10 years,” 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.
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