Greencastle schools brace for late tax bills
Finances continue to be tight for the Greencastle School Corporation.
On Wednesday night, school board members approved the corporation's budget for next year, expecting that the money eventually received from property taxes will be less than expected.
Supt. Bob Green said the State Department of Local Government Finance told him to plan for a 35-percent drop in the assessed value of properties in Putnam County, which means less money coming to GCSC.
The budget estimates approved by the board this week are as follows: general fund, $13,405,936; debt service, $5,823,136; bond debt service, $274,000; capital projects, $3,286,739; school transportation, $1,149,600; school bus replacement, $427,000; special education pre-school, $220,000; rainy day, $0.
Green told the school board that he was told by county officials that the first property tax bills for 2008 would not go out until November, which means the school corporation would not receive its draw until December. The second draw won't come until probably after January 2009, he said.
"We know we're probably not going to be able to pay off our loans by the end of the year (December)," Green said.
GCSC joins other school corporations in Putnam County forced to take out millions of dollars worth of loans in the absence of property tax revenues.
Green said most of the corporation's funds have a negative balance, but the one he is most concerned about is transportation. The school board has discussed ways to reduce costs, including a plan to make bus routes more efficient, but nothing has been decided.
Last year, the corporation eliminated some staff and didn't rehire some positions that were vacated by retirements or resignations, in order to save money. Layoffs were not mentioned at this week's school board meeting.
The board issued a resolution giving Green authorization to borrow up to an additional $4 million, if necessary.
"This should be able to carry us through the end of the year," Green said.
In other business, the board learned that the ADM (known as A Day's Membership or Average Daily Membership) of GCSC was 1,935, taken since the last school board meeting. This was a drop of 15 students from last year, Green said. After three years of growth, Green said he wasn't surprised by the slight drop.
"This should have a minimal effect on our general fund," he said, referring to the money the corporation receives annually from the state for each student.