Tuesday, June 28, 2005

27 June 2005 Dearborn County Plan Commission Meeting Notes

27 June 2005 Dearborn County Plan Commission Meeting Notes

Present: Present: Mark Mitter, Chairman, Jeff Hughes, Patrick de Maynadier, Tarry Feiss, Dennis Kraus, Jr., Robert Laws, Mike Hall, and Nick Held. Absent: Jane Ohlmansiek.
Also present: Travis Miller, Planning Director, and Mark McCormack, Enforcement Officer, and Arnie McGill, Att’y.

1. Tom Kent Gets Approval for replat of Carlee Acres off SR48 and Burns Rd.
One neighbor spoke and one letter was received on this application. The concern with the Burns Rd. access to SR 48 was addressed – Kent explained the delay with utility companies needing to move their utilities prior to the road realignment.
Kent also has the approval of each owner of the sold lots on the replat. This replat creates one more lot with access in case the adjoining owner does not buy that lot (Lot 10). If it is to become buildable it will require septic sites to be approved as well.
Hall motioned and Feiss 2nd to approve the replat with all tech review items addressed and only lot 5 and 10 sharing driveways, lot 4 and 6 to have direct access to Carlee Drive. All ayes.

2. Contrived Roadway Access Leads to Denial for 3-lot Family Subdivision Off West County Line Road in Jackson Township.
Kraus, Jr. and Mike Hall stepped down for this application. Both had surveyed this original land.
Carol Vassil, owner had purchased the land wishing to split it for her and two children. Approval would have required a dimensional variance in street width of 2 ft./ a 950-ft variance in cul de sac length, and a 90 ft. dimensional variance on the two curves. The curves would be widened to allow emergency vehicles to pass. Asphalt pavement was proposed. Four neighbors in the area spoke against the division. Drainage issues due to the flat land and soils in Jackson Township, mosquito control, more traffic (FROM 3 HOUSES!), car lights shining into homes on the property near the road bends, this division being the start of further ones possibly, etc.
The PC members noted that this looked like it was designed to be a one-lot piece originally. The original land already has 5 flag lots on it. There were issues of safety with fire- dept. access on the road. Too many variances requested to fit it in.
De Maynadier motioned and Laws 2nd to deny based on not meeting sections d or c of the standards for granting a variance. All ayes to deny.
Applicant asked if she could come back for 2 lots. The answer was yes, if there were direct access to the main road.


3. Request From Highway Dept. to Change Ordinance Section 450 For 75% Buildout to Trigger Road Acceptance in Subdivisions Denied.
This rule of thumb does not apply in all cases. Plan Commission felt it was better to judge on a case-by-case basis. The county’s interests need to be protected before roads are taken in to inventory.
DeMaynadier motioned and Hughes 2nd to Deny. All ayes to deny.

ADMINISTRATIVE:
1. Draft Budget for 2006 approved with Hughes abstaining and Laws voting nay.

2. BZA may need some language changes in ordinance to clarify enforcement issues such as stop work orders. Discussion on complaint based enforcement ensued. Will advertise this for upcoming hearing later.

3. Patrick deMaynadier will step down form BZA due to being over-committed. PC to select a new member to go to BZA next month.

4. Thursday August 18th 7-9 PM will be next PC Working Session to decide how to work on the Future Land Use Map. Master Plan Advisory Board is not being notified of this yet. The meeting IS OPEN TO THE PUBLIC, though.

5. DOGRIDGE ROAD SUBDIVISION came in for tech review today for phase 1- 44 homes. Mike Hall reiterated that his motion was to have no homes or lots sold until the 2 intersections with SR1 and SR46 were constructed!!! The Board instructed Travis Miller to have Maxwell notified that any work he does on subdivision roads or utilities prior to this is at his own risk. Maxwell is to sign off on that prior to the improvement plan being approved. [NOTE: No lots or homes are to be sold until after the intersections are complete. This will occur at 2ndary approval. The preliminary groundwork is at Maxwell’s risk, should anything fall through from INDOT or ROW issues for those intersections.]

6. A letter from county citizens protesting the St. Leon Sewer hook-ups was passed out to all board members. Travis informed them that the citizens requested that the PC be notified and that Channel 9 – I team was involved.

Meeting adjourned at 10:35 PM

Christine Brauer Mueller
Lawrenceburg Township

Thursday, June 23, 2005

The Death of Private Property


Today the Supreme Court ruled that any governmental agency that previously had the ability to wield the right of eminent domain may now seize your property for the public purpose of financial gain. And so they will.

Today the floodgates of corruption and abuse were opened in municipalities and counties across the nation. Forget "blighted neighborhoods", that was only the first insidious step in the process. Now it is justified with only the excuse of increased tax revenue. And it will be.

Today you own property, but if a developer with a friend, or just a corrupt acquaintance, in the right governmental position wants it, it will soon NOT be your property. Moreover, beware if you have an enemy in the right governmental position. All your property may soon be vital to the tax base, purchased at a pittance, and given to a friendly donor.

The scope of potential corruption and abuse boggles the mind.

I suggest an immediate campaign of correspondence with all levels of elected representatives (except of course those who might condemn your home) to do everything possible to reverse this incredible judicial massacre of the fifth amendment to the constitution.

Protect the Flag


This message was sent to Senators Lugar, Bayh and Representative Sodrel of Indiana with regard to the current consideration of a Constitutional Amendment to remove flag desecration as a form of free speech.

If you favor a Constitutional Amendment to protect the flag, send a letter or e-mail to your Congressmen.


"Flag burning or desecration should be outlawed by Constitutional amendment. Burning or desecrating the flag should be no more legal than burning or desecrating a Church, school, someone's home, a park or a business as a form of free speech. Some might even claim the right of free speech in harming or killing a person. We have considered all of these illegal, so should we for the symbol of our Country.

You may say the flag is a piece of cloth and of little value; but, as a symbol of all the Americans who have served and especially those who've died for it, invest it with much more value than a building. If it were not of such value, why would someone burn it to get attention?"

Ralph E. Thompson, Jr., PE, CPE, NSPE

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

21 June 2005 Dearborn County Commissioner Meeting Notes

21 June 2005 Dearborn County Commissioner Meeting Notes

Present: Benning, President, Fox and Hughes.
Also Present: Pickens, Auditor, Messmore, Administrator, and Ewbank, Attorney.

1. Sheriff Dave Lusby presented Senator Johnny Nugent with an old badge (1940’s) from the Sheriff’s Dept. for Nugent’s collection. Lusby said it was in appreciation for his years of service to Dearborn County.
Nugent thanked the commissioners and stated how proud he was of everyone who helped- a team effort- to keep the Riverboat Revenues safe in SE Indiana. Hughes also thanked Nugent for all his efforts.

2. Kathy Nevels from Family Connections for Healthy Families America requested to be on the commissioner’s budget for 2006 for $2500 or more if possible to use as grant matches for their programs. Commissioners voted to put them in the budget, but noted that Council decides what is allowed.

3. Chris McHenry requested Historical Society to be put back into the Commissioner’s budget for $10,000 now that the CVTB no longer funds them. Commissioners used to do it prior to that. She cited the fact that they house the microfilm for recorder’s and clerks office for historical documents and thus relieve those offices of much of the hassle for those requests.
Commissioners voted to put them in the 2006 budget, also noting that Council has the final say.

4. Mark Seiler – Transportation Dept. presented the request for Arbor Ridge sub’n road to be accepted into county roadways. Residents had petitioned to be accepted. $22,000 left on the bond for 700 ft of road off Georgetown. Road has stood 3 years with no problems. Fox wants core samples- ON ALL ROADS TO BE ACCEPTED. Ewbank noted they should use the bond money to pay for the sampling.

5. Mike Davis- Transportation Director noted that the 2 roads left from 2004 are being finished now- Shangri-La and North Hogan. Private company is testing the road.
The 2005 –2006 list was accepted to go out for bids once Ewbank has reviewed paperwork. They will be bid separately as paving, chip/seal, and widening. Plans to do widening in-house possibly. [NOTE: Does the county have the equipment to perform this?]
Davis also wanted to use $15,000 for the testing services- expecting to pay less than that.
White’s Hill will be finished in 3-4 weeks. Fox wants guardrail on appropriate places between Dover and New Alsace on North Dearborn. Hughes wants to get designation numbers for projects for Stateline, Sawdon Ridge, and Mt. Pleasant- the same as was done for North Dearborn. [NOTE: It took years for North Dearborn to get to this point.]

6. Alan Brietenstein – presented a constitutional issue on tax payments. Ewbank noted that he needed to get the federal gov’t to answer the questions, as it was a federal issue.

7. Cary Pickens presented the EMS contracts for 2 ambulances for Aurora- which were signed. Claims and minutes signed.

8. Bryan Messmore- Administrator- got commissioner’s OK to proceed with the bid for camera-recording devices for the sheriff’s dept.
He also received permission for the sheriff to donate old uniforms to Switzerland County. These old ones do not fit the current color scheme of the dept., which is now reversed. [NOTE: Why reverse the color scheme if the uniforms are still good?]
Transportation Plan- identified 26 interested parties to serve on the committee.

9. Bob Ewbank- att’y- presented two ordinances for fee and permit changes in the building and in the transportation departments. Both passed. They will be effective once published for two weeks – probably August 1. (Fox motioned and Benning 2nd on this with all 3 ayes.)

10. Benning yielded to Chris McHenry who made brief comments on Dave Denman’s death last week. Denman contributed much to historic preservation in the county- and will be missed.

11. Benning read into the record that the sewer district had a $357,000 loan from council and currently has $366,939.29 in their fund. The fund is 394.00 in the commissioner’s budget. She noted they were in need of money.

THERE IS ONLY ONE MEETING IN JULY- JULY 5th.

Meeting adjourned at 7:45 PM

Christine Brauer Mueller
Lawrenceburg Township

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Greg Guerrettaz Gives Excellent Fiscal Impact of Development Presentation

8 June 2005 Fiscal Impact of Land Use Decisions- Plan Commission Working Session

Guest Speaker- Greg Guerrettaz an economist from Hendricks County from Financial Solutions Group, Inc. Guerrettaz has twenty years experience in school and township budgeting and is quite familiar with many Indiana counties. In his talk he went into much greater detail than expected on county fiscal details and impacts. It is unfortunate that more people (and politicians) weren’t present to hear it.

Attendees besides the majority of Plan Commission and BZA members included representatives from the DCEDI, a representative of the Chamber of Commerce, a homebuilder/developer, one county commissioner, one county council member, and 6 citizens.

Guerrettaz’s PowerPoint presentation tied the fiscal impacts of land use designations (Ag/Open Space, Residential, and Commercial/Industrial) to our specific Master Plan.
He emphasized that just as our master plan is a living document, so is the fiscal impact study. Both need to be reviewed on a regular basis to be certain they are appropriate to the current times and conditions in the county.

He used 1782 notices from the Dept. of Local Government Finance to get an economic picture of our county. These forms have an appropriations section that summarizes how our tax revenues are spent.

With a 17-18% growth rate, it is critical to now where that growth is originating. It also is critical to understand how we are going to pay for it. He noted our lack of a 10-year road plan, the 21% expulsion rate from L-bg Schools, when the state average is 13.9%, and our fairly decent amount of park space.

Using data from Hendricks County and a point system, he showed some examples of how to potentially balance development, not only by balancing high end homes with low end ones (and the resulting taxable incomes, for example COIT, of the families in those homes), but also by utilizing VOLUNTARY IMPACT FEES as a means of softening the effects of development on fire/EMS, schools, and infrastructure. He noted that fire/ems staff requires a minimum of 3 per shift ( x 2- 3 shifts) and if the voluntary have to be replaced by paid staff, the cost is approximately $45-70,000 per staffer. The recommended ratio is 1 police officer and 1 fireman to every 500 people.

The basic premise of the entire presentation is to create a balance of land uses, so that the fiscal impacts upon the taxpayers are minimized, while still preserving a good quality of life. This means a VARIETY of housing choices, CONSERVATION of farmland and open space to preserve the economy and quality of life, and ATTRACTING business and commercial opportunities for the residents that will help offset their costs on the system.

It was noted that an independent fiscal analysis is better than having ones prepared by developers, for obvious reasons. Not all developers pay their fair share of impact- even within our own county. A few here are VOLUNTEERING to fix roadways and add infrastructure, almost like generating their own impact fee. So far, our Plan Commission has yet to deny based upon the lack of volunteering from a developer.
Examples were given that show that $100-150,000- even 200,000 home do not pay for all their services in taxes. The average was near $225,000 or upwards before a home was paying enough in taxes to offset their services. He noted that as populations increase; so do jail populations in DIRECT PROPORTION! He also noted that sheriffs would tell you that there is a direct correlation between the home value and the number of police calls to the area.

Guerrettaz showed data that explained a problem in school funding formulas. Apparently, if a school district grows at too high a rate, the target revenue received from the state can be as low as half of what is needed. This revenue then has to be made up on the local level. It would be critical to know where these levels are in our three local districts and how the growth in these districts should be managed to offset this. (We’re back to the concept of pacing and placing development.)

Facts to note included that for every $1 of Residential tax it takes $1.20-1.50 to provide services. For Commercial it takes $.30-.75 for services, and for Ag it’s $.20-.40.

In Dearborn County using limited data at this point, Guerrettaz estimated our particular ratios to be as follows: Residential $1.00/1.18, Industrial/Commercial as $1.00/0.64 and Ag/ Open space as $1.00/0.36.

Using our last year’s tax info he noted that we have $21 million in revenue with $19.7 million in expenditures. There was a $3.097 million loss on residential, a $2.824 million gain on commercial, and a $3.121million gain on Ag/open space lands.


There is a concern with getting this data for the unincorporated county only. The towns and cities need to be included in the balancing of this development pattern, because the heaviest development and businesses are located there due to infrastructure. To forget how we all fit together would be a huge mistake in planning.

The conclusion was not to stop all growth, but to manage and balance it. Voluntary impact fees from developers might help offset the issues involved. Clearly a current snapshot of the county patterns is useful, but equally important, is to update that database annually and to continually communicate those numbers to the citizens, business people, and schools in the entire county.

Christine Brauer Mueller
Lawrenceburg Township

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

7 June 2005 County Commissioners Meeting Notes

7 June 2005 County Commissioners Meeting Notes

Present: Vera Benning, President, Jeff Hughes, and Rick Fox.
Also Present: Cary Pickens, Auditor, Bryan Messmore, County Adm., and Bob Ewbank, Attorney.

The agenda for this meeting includes a statement: “During the Public Hearing, public comments are welcomed.”

1. Zone change sails through at SR1
No Public spoke at the hearing for the zone change request from Anthony Bischoff from Ag to H-1 on 1.53 acres in Kelso Township on SR 1. Fox motioned and Hughes 2nd to approve noting the 5 criteria for a zone change but, as usual, not stating any particulars as to how they were achieved. Zone change granted.

2. Sometimes when you lose, you win
The plan commission recommended two zoning ordinance changes but only one was passed. Cul de sac streets defined and updated to include up to 30 homes on the 1200 ft. length was passed unanimously. (Article 3, 305 N and Article 6 definitions)
The Traffic impact studies clarifications and also the specification to allow the plan commission to select, with the consent of the developer, the company to do the traffic study on developments of over 100 homes was unanimously denied. Two citizens spoke at this. It was clear that the developers and related consultants in the county were concerned about a lack of trust in the certified engineers stamp on such studies. It was also clear that these commissioners have had little experience with the discrepancies in the various traffic analyses that have been submitted over the past few years. [NOTE: Anti-development groups will be breathing a huge sigh of relief that this failed, because this leaves much more for “discussion” on traffic studies and the results. Even with a “stamp” the fact that a study is commissioned and paid for by the developer, means that the services purchased are not 100% objective.
It should also be noted that the commissioners have yet to hire the county’s engineer and therefore an objective person, whose salary is paid by the county, is not available to analyze results of studies done on county roads.
Lastly, the county commissioners seem na├»ve in their blind faith regarding “the stamp.” I have seen state road studies done by reputable companies using data that are NOT UP TO DATE. They are “stamped”- and it’s clear that they cite their source of data, so it is not a “lie”, and yet it is not accurate, because it may be using counts that are 5 years old, or using aerials of the study area that are old and don’t show all the current houses, so they don’t have accurate predictors of current road trips generated. Fortunately, the plan commission still has the ability to accept or reject the studies submitted.]


3. Beckley back-doors migrant housing request- delays public hearing
Commissioners voted to sign the migrant housing grant request for Beiersdorfer Orchard. Notice failed to get to the paper on time for the public hearing and so it will be held on June 14 at the commissioner’s WORKING MEETING! [NOTE: These meetings are not to have decisions, per the county attorney. As usual, Beckley brings his requests in last minute, hurry, hurry, hurry. So why were the “rules” suspended?]

4. Soil and Water Updates Erosion Control Ordinance
Jennifer Hughes of Soil and Water presented the updated ordinance on erosion control with the backing of the county building inspector. The old ordinance had been legally challenged. This one is based on legally sound ones from other areas in the state. No public commented at this hearing. Commissioners passed it unanimously to become effective August 1 after it is published for 2 weeks in the paper.

5. Transportation Dept. Finally Gets Annual Report Signed With One Day To Submit
Davis also reported on maintenance items continuing and guardrail being put up.

6. Bridge Inventory Complete with Prioritized List for Repairs and Rehab
United Consulting (Jeff Larrison, Andrew Share and John Klinefelter (sp?) presented three binders of data to commissioners and elaborated on the bridges needing work. (19 replacements, 5 rehabs, and 30 repairs) Some bridges require inspections every 6 mo to 1 year because of “problems.”

7. Triple Whipple Gets Commissioner’s Blessing to be Rehabbed.
Davis Denman of Historical Landmarks and John Graf, PE presented info. County share of this project is to be $278,000 in 2005 dollars. The “cheaper to keep her” mantra was resurrected again- the same slogan we’ve been hearing for nearly 10 years on this bridge. It will help complete the bike trail from Greendale to Rising Sun. It will also be an alternate in emergencies, though it will not take vehicular traffic. This bridge, built in 1878,is the last bridge of it’s kind in the US.

8. Rising Sun Medical Center Requests Funds for Indigent Patients
Cherie Hall and Dr. Scudder presented a request to get money to help defray costs of their clinic, which treats indigent patients on a sliding scale. They are not-for-profit and have an annual budget of $800,000. This year they were $81,000 in the hole. They started with 3000 charts in 1999 and now have 6000. They see Heart House patients and migrant workers also. Fox wanted then to seek out Argosy for funding as a “good neighbor.” And Rising Sun is already using $225,000 to subsidize them from gambling revenue. Commissioners approved them to see Council in August.

9. North Dearborn Road Design- Contract Extended
Council has allotted $223,000 each year for the next 5 years for this project. The state is keeping us on the list for state match. They are starting the design work for the road and bridge on North Dearborn right after Mike Davis gives them notice to proceed tomorrow per Dick Robertson of CEA.

10.Lifetime Resources Refinances Senior Housing and Sends Money Back to State for First time Homebuyers
LuAnn Male got approval for a refinancing of the North Dearborn senior Housing from 7% to 2% loan. She also received the OK to send $220,000 back to the state on First Time Homebuyers Assistance. They kept $80,000. There were difficulties getting enough eligible recipients in the time allotted for the grant. She also received approval to go for owner occupied rehab grant with an emphasis on elderly for 20 homes. No local match is required.

11. Claims and Minutes signed.

12. Jeff Hughes- still waiting on donations to finish the plaque for Al Werner and to set up a dedication ceremony. (Werner was the county’s first building inspector and recently retired)

13. Rick Fox- took road tour with Mike Davis and would like to do more bridges in-house to save money.

14. Vera Benning- read letters from Lifetime Resources (that went with the previous request in #10. She also had Fox read a geological approval on rehab that also went with previous requests.
Benning reminded commissioners of 3 meetings on Wednesday:

Chamber of Commerce at 7:30 AM with GIS, Mark Neff, Ec. Dev Task Force, and Business and Industry Update.

DCEDI Press Conference at Argosy at 10:30 AM on the UC students’ study of Dearborn County

Fiscal Impact Study presentation for land Uses at L-bg Library 7-9PM

Meeting adjourned at 8:40 PM

Christine Brauer Mueller
Lawrenceburg Township

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Schools, Taxes and Rural Development


Mrs. Loveland and Mr. Freemond are both correct, however Mr Freemond did not go far enough. The residential development does not add "nothing". It adds all kinds of problems and costs.

What it does add is school crowding, higher taxes to pay for the increased number of students brought into the district, a reduction in the rural character of the County and the reduction in the quality of education in the County.

The misuse of school funding will eventually require higher taxes to fund the increased cost of education and higher administration costs. Also, more taxes will be added to build more facilities to serve the additional students provided by the residential development. The current increases in education costs, as pointed out by Mrs. Loveland previously are not adding any significant increase in student capacity.

The push to develop agricultural land into high density will add to that tax burden, as Dearborn County residents subsidize the newcomers. Each new student will require much more in costs than can ever be provided by the taxes paid by each new residence.

Our neighbors to the east are wanting to take advantage of our current lower taxes and quality educational facilities; but, they will bring with them the very problems they are fleeing.

These discussions on education do not include all the other cost increases the developers foist off on the County, such as, roads, fire and EMT personnel and equipment, government administration costs, the impact of sewage, the impact of storm water run off, etc. It also does not include the increased cost of utilities to upgrade their systems, that the utility companies will pass through to all their users not just the new users driving that increase.

These are part of the overall problem.

Mr. Freemond is absolutely correct in indicating the need for industry (not commercial) additions to the County. Industry will help with the taxes, since they require less in service costs than they pay in taxes (just like agricultural). Industry also provides the added benefit of adding income producing employment in the County.

The key to resolving these issues, is to put pressure on the elected officials of the school boards and on our County Commissioners, to make them responsible for their actions and, if they don't change or resolve the problem, to vote them out of office. Our County Commissioners have continued to support and enable the developers, not the best interests of the citizens of the County.

Otherwise, the developers will continue to get rich and the school board administration will benefit with high salaries and more facilities to control at the expense of the citizens of this County.


Ralph E. Thompson, Jr., PE, CPE, NSPE
A citizen of Dearborn County

Attacking Fiscal Failures - Other facets to consider

Mrs.Loveland has done a masterful and obviously time consuming job of explaining to us the financial situation of our educational system in Dearborn County.

Her point of attack is that of the wrong use of what educational funds are available. I tend to agree with her premises although my faculty career was not at the primary and secondary school level.

What we must do is have a three pronged attack. The first is as described by Mrs. Loveland.

The second point of attack concerns the almost indiscriminate conversion of agricultural land to residential land which results in the building of subdivisions and hence the importation of more and more students to homes from which the state and county taxes are insignificant. The subdivisions bring in people who find Dearborn County property taxes and Indiana income taxes a relief as compared to their cumulative tax burdens in Cincinnati, Ohio, Hamilton County Ohio, and the state of Ohio.

The third point of attack must be to improve the ratio of residential to industrial tax receipts. So far the Chamber of Commerce and the Economic Development people have failed in this task.

I have complained about the burden placed upon our school system by the development of subdivisions for many years. Other than one elderly developer who years ago replied "something always happens" no one answers my question about subdivisions and school finances.

At the present time subdivisions are a negative for this county. They contribute nothing.


Alan Freemond Sr.

Faculty Cuts, Administrative Raises, and Fiscal Irresponsibility

A solid foundation in statistics and mathematics is necessary to fully grasp recent front-page education news.

In April, blaming state funding cuts, Sunman Dearborn announced the elimination of five full time and four part time faculty positions. In May, the administration awarded nearly $79,000 in administrative salary increases. Sunman Dearborn did cut one administrator and total administrative costs will be less. All things considered, is this the time to give administrators raises?

The justification for these raises was bringing salaries to state averages. The current salary for the Superintendent is $103,416. If this is below state average, Indiana is paying it’s administrators much more than most states. The 2004-2005 Occupational Outlook Handbook lists the average Salary for Directors, managers, coordinators, and supervisors, finance and business personnel in 2002-2003 at $81,451. Indiana school administrators must have had huge cost of living adjustments over the last two years. Principals earned an average of $75,291-$86,452 and Assistant Principals earned an average of $62,230-$70,874. (See Page 35 of the OOH)

Sadly, Sunman Dearborn could replace two of their retiring teachers with new teachers and spend less than what administrative raises will cost.

Together, Sunman Dearborn and South Dearborn Superintendents brought our next bit of bad news. Our property taxes will be going up. The state is “holding a gun to the heads of local administrators” said Book.

Unfortunately the math wasn’t completed for us. So I did it myself. Sunman Dearborn will loose $457,388 in state funding over the next two years. Maybe those 9 faculty position cuts are really necessary. Maybe not! Sunman Dearborn will be raising an additional $1,473,891 in property taxes over the next two years. According to administration, the state is forcing them to do it.

Sunman Dearborn wants to be “average.” It should be noted that this increase in local tax levy likely keeps Local Property Tax Levy Per Average Daily Membership $438 less than state average. But, Sunman Dearborn will also likely receive $159 less than state average State Support Per A. D. M.

Over two years, South Dearborn will lose $262,524 in State Support. Yet they will still receive more than state average in State Support Per A. D. M. Using current figures from South Dearborn’s Statistical profile, I estimate State Support at $4,225 per Average Daily Membership. This is $373 above state average. South Dearborn will raise another $524,654 in property taxes. This still leaves the locals paying far less per A.D.M. at $2960 than the state average of $3970.

The truly terrifying fact is we don’t know what will happen to debt service and capital project tax rates. These increases will be blamed on the state. But it should be noted, both school corporations borrowed amounts exceeding $35 million for building projects on their secondary campuses.

Extracting information from City Securities Final Pricing Wire, I determined the annual interest on South Dearborn’s project to be over $1.7 million dollars. The first bond of $170,000 does not

Mature until July 15, 2007.

These bonds were issued after South Dearborn borrowed 8 Million for operating expenses due to slow collection of property taxes. These bonds were issued after the state cut transportation funding. These bonds were issued despite the fact that the State was in a fiscal mess and had delayed support payments to the schools numerous times. These bonds were issued after many were demanding the state put it’s financial house in order. The only solution to “state budget woes” is increased taxes or reduced spending. The writing was on the wall, but no one on The Board or in the Central Office read it.

Standard and Poor has a new website called SchoolMatters. The site provides detailed financial data on all public schools. The latest data available is 2002. In that year South Dearborn was paying $300 per student in interest payments. Total Debt Payments per student were $694 or 10.9% of expenditures. South Dearborn’s debt was nearly four times the state average. That is more debt than 96.8% of all Indiana Schools. And, Sunman Dearborn had more debt than 90.5 % of all Indiana Schools.

Other spending data can be found on IDEANET. The three-year average spending per student at Sunman Dearborn was $8,260. Teacher Salary per student is $2,563. The other $5,697 is spent on administration and overhead. Only 31% of that money is spent on the teacher. This is unsatisfactory when you consider Sunman Dearborn teachers rank 13th in average teacher salary.

The three year average spending per student at South Dearborn was $8,347. Teacher Salary per student is $2,779. The other $5,568 is spent elsewhere. Only 33% of South Dearborn’s spending goes to Teacher Salaries. With less than a third of education spending going to teachers, perhaps cutting administration would be more appropriate than cutting faculty.


Karen Loveland



About the Author:

Karen earned a BS in Business Administration with a Major in Finance from Brigham Young University. Karen has seven children in South Dearborn Schools.