PRINCETON — State funding reductions and late payments were bad enough, but Princeton Elementary School District 115 is about to feel the effects of a shrinking local tax base.
After years in a weak economy, lower tax assessments on private properties and homes are becoming another major concern for Princeton and other school districts.
At a monthly school board finance committee meeting Tuesday, Princeton elementary superintendent Tim Smith told the board the equalized assessed valuation that the district can tax this year for this summer’s property tax bills is shrinking from $244 million last year to $233 million. That 4.7-percent drop is “making us get pretty serious” about cutting or containing costs, he said.
“Now we’re starting to see local revenue decrease as a result of lower (property valuations,” Smith said Wednesday. He said the weak economy and low home prices are “good for home buyers; it’s terrible for home sellers.” Plus, many homeowners have protested to get lower assessments.
“When the economy went bad, we didn’t feel it right away,” Smith said, adding that when the economy starts to improve, the school district likely will be affected more slowly than some businesses or residents. He said there’s also an anticipation of weakening of sales tax revenues, because as 2013 began, employed Americans saw an end to a cut in Social Security withholding on their paychecks.
Smith said the board will need to consider reductions and may need to find a way to take advantage, financially, of some cost reductions that may somewhat naturally occur due to 22 retirements anticipated over the next four years. Retiring at the end of this school year are physical education teachers and coaches Rick Kamrath and Brian Herron, as well as Chris Smith, who has been a technology coordinator and Response through Intervention expert for the school.
Craig Sterrett can be reached at (815) 220-6935 or email@example.com.
The NewsTribune Bureau County bureau office can be reached at (815) 879-5200 or ntprinceton