FWCS Budget Will Cause Property Tax Increase

By Rachel Martin 

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Indiana’s NewsCenter) – Fort Wayne Community School (FWCS) Board members reviewed the 2013 budget Monday night, and it could mean big changes for tax payers in the district.

According to FWCS administrators, the state’s funding formula and how the district will pay its pension bonds have changed, causing an increase this year’s budget. An increase in the budget also means an increase in property taxes.

The 2013 budget is $279M, that’s up 5 percent from the 2012 budget. Chief Financial Officer, Kathy Friend, says there are two aspects to the budget, the general fund, and funds supported by property taxes.

Friend says the biggest increase is in the budget’s General Fund, which supports teacher salaries and benefits. Although 14 teachers will be cut in 2013, because the district lost 350 students this school year, it will save the district $1M allowing the district to give over $2M in teacher bonuses. The state also granted $1.5M to the General Fund to go toward full-day kindergarten.

However, Friend says changes in state funding added nearly $2.5M to the Capital Projects Fund (CPF). The CPF goes toward building upkeep and renovations. Friend says since the CPF is supported by local property taxes, and the budget is higher than last year’s, there will be an increase in property taxes as well.

“The average tax payer will seen an increase of about $33 on their tax bill next year, which is about a 3 percent increase over their current bill. That’s partly because of our project and partly because of increases to the other property tax-supported funds, particularly the Capital Projects Fund,” said Friend.

Friend says someone who owns a $100,000 house would pay an additional $33.42 a year, increasing the total yearly bill by 3.2 percent. That percentage will be added to the approximately $3 per month raise in property taxes from FWCS’ $119M building renovation project that passed in March’s Primary Election. The tax increase for the renovation project is already set, the other increase will not be passed until after FWCS holds a public hearing.

That public hearing will be held Monday, Oct. 8 at 6 p.m. at the Grile Administrative Center, 1200 S. Clinton Street. The FWCS Board is expected vote on the final recommendation at their Oct. 22 Board meeting.