Maple Dale-Indian Hill projects slight tax increase

Cuts in aid, increasing costs outpacing plan to replenish fund balance

April 24, 2012

Fox Point - Although the current school year has yet to close, Maple Dale-Indian Hill officials are already looking to 2012-13 with a review of the district's proposed budget. Based on preliminary data, officials are anticipating a 1.12 percent increase in the property tax levy and an 8-cent increase in the tax rate.

Business Administrator Gary Swalve last week made his first presentation of the draft budget before the School Board. Further amendments could be made to the document in the months ahead, and the board is scheduled to vote on Swalve's recommendations in May or June.

The preliminary work is leading up to the district's annual meeting in July, where residents within the district's boundaries have an opportunity to vote on the recommendations and offer input.

Swalve's draft budget totals more than $9.3 million in 2012-13. Plans call for setting the levy, the district's largest source of income, at $6.83 million. In the 2011-12 school year, the district levied $6.76 million in taxes.

Based on preliminary information, the tax rate is expected to increase from $6.69 per $1,000 of equalized value to $6.77 per $1,000 of equalized value. Because Maple Dale-Indian Hill straddles portions of four communities - Bayside, Fox Point, Glendale and River Hills - there could be variables from one community to the next.

Swalve said he is working under the assumption property values throughout the district will remain flat in year-to-year comparisons. If the projection holds true, River Hills taxpayers would contribute the most toward the district at 45.64 percent, followed by Bayside at 29.88 percent, Fox Point at 22.19 percent and Glendale at 2.29 percent.

Maple Dale-Indian Hill is in the midst of taking in additional income, beyond the state-mandated levy limits, because of a referendum passed by voters in 2009. The district is receiving an infusion of $800,000 in additional money over a 10-year period.

The additional money addressed a two-pronged effort - shoring up ongoing deficits, where expenses consistently outpace revenue, and replenishing the district's reserves in the fund balance, which could have been depleted if the district continued along its charted course.

Swalve said the initial goal was to place about $400,000 of the $800,000 in added referendum money in the fund balance, but a variety of factors - including a reduction in income from the state - has reduced that number.

"At this early stage in the 10-year referendum calendar, we should not be nearing zero return to fund balance," Swalve said. "Quite the opposite, we should be building our capacity to balance our annual budget without any reliance on referendum proceeds."

Because of continued fiscal constraints in 2012-13 and the intent of placing $134,000 into the fund balance, Swalve and other administrators are recommending a number of budget reductions totaling nearly $200,000. Proposed reductions include utility savings, changes in bus routing and cuts to attorney fees.

- Dave Fidlin

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