Red Clay News
Red Clay Taxes to Decrease Second Year in Row
The Red Clay Consolidated School District Board of Education has approved a 2013 tax rate with an overall decrease of 3 cents, even while increasing services for students throughout the district. The 2 percent tax rate decrease will amount to a $22 reduction in the average Red Clay school tax bill of $1261.
The decrease in the tax rate was possible due to Red Clay receiving increased state funding for students that require special services, referred to as “needs based unit funding,” explained Chief Financial Officer Jill Floore at the July 11, 2012 school board meeting. After her presentation, board members unanimously approved the new tax rate.
Red Clay has received additional teacher units for smaller numbers of students in special education programs and classrooms throughout the district. Increased state funding in these areas allows the district to lower the Tuition Tax rate, which pays for the local portion of special programs, from $0.272 per $100 of assessed value in 2012, to $0.242 per $100 of assessed value in 2013.
The 2013 downward trend for taxes follows a decrease in the 2012 overall tax rate of 2.5 cents. In the past five years, Red Clay homeowners have seen their overall tax rate increase by a total of just .8 cents, an average increase of .0016 cents per year.
“Strong fiscal management has resulted in the district holding the line, and even decreasing, tax rates over the past several years,” said Superintendent Merv Daugherty. “Strict controls and strategic spending, along with new federal programs and state support, has allowed Red Clay to keep tax rate increases to a minimum while we have increased services and programs, from elementary school summer enrichment programs, distance learning labs at the high schools, community centers at our city schools and expanded career pathways throughout the district.”
Increased services to students with special needs will include the expansion of a program for autistic children at the Richardson Park Learning Center next year.
The district’s overall tax rate is made up of the Tuition Tax rate and three other categories and rates, including current expense, minor capital improvement and debt service. The current expense rate will remain the same for 2013. This rate covers operating funds such as salaries and is set by voters. The last increase to this fund was approved by voters in 2008.
The Minor Capital funding rate, which pays for smaller scale maintenance and repairs at buildings, is determined by state funding. A district’s annual minor capital improvement fund is made up of 60 percent state funds and 40 percent “matching” local taxes. Red Clay will receive an increase in state funds for 2013 and increased the local tax rate accordingly, by .5 cents.
The $.005 increase in Minor Capital funding was offset by a $0.005 decrease in the Debt Service tax rate. The Debt Service tax rate covers interest and the local share of principal payments on construction bonds. Despite a successful Capital Improvement referendum in February 2012, this rate decreases in 2013 as the district’s previous capital improvement program is paid off.
Looking forward, as projects approved by voters in the 2012 referendum begin, the debt service tax rate will rise gradually over the next several years, reaching a peak increase of 6 cents in 2016. Because this most recent referendum is smaller than past projects, as previous debt is paid off, the overall impact means the debt service tax rate will begin to decline again in 2017.
Red Clay ended Fiscal Year 2012 in a very strong position, said Floore, within local operating funds balance of more than $20 million and within 1.7% of the projected budget. These funds will cover salaries and expenses through October 2012, when the district receives its share of local property taxes collected by New Castle County.
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