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WCSD faces decision to raise taxes or lose revenue

Warren County School District is in a position to have to raise taxes if it wants to keep revenues from falling.

According to Director of Business Services Jim Grosch, the projected total assessed value for Warren County properties goes down about $4 million – from about $460 million to about $456 million.

At the district’s millage of 55.3371, the assessment loss would leave the district with about $221,000 less in property tax revenue.

“We would have to do a tax increase merely to keep our tax revenues the same,” finance committee chairman Arthur Stewart said.

“A little over a half-mill,” Grosch agreed.

“That’s nuts,” Stewart said. “That’s wrong.”

The board is still months out from having to make any tax rate decisions – Monday’s update was for planning purposes.

Stewart explained that the board is “loathe” to raise taxes at all, much less to the maximum level that it would be allowed at this point.

Earlier in the year, the district agreed not to raise taxes over the state-set index for the year.

That index is 4.9 percent – about 2.7115 mills, Grosch said.

The maximum allowable increase would bring about $1 million more dollars to the district.

According to “very preliminary” five-year projections presented by Grosch on Monday, the district faces about a $5.6 million deficit in the 2022-2023 school year.

Such a deficit would bring the district’s fund balance under $13 million.

According to the preliminary projections, the fund balance – expected to be about $18 million at the end of this school year, will be at $1.6 million by 2024-2025 and $6 million in the red after the 2025-2026 school year.

To make matters possibly worse, Grosch said he included year-over-year estimated inflationary increases of 4 percent for most expenditures, but he has heard 7 percent could be closer to the mark.

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