In a unanimous vote, the Indian Hill Board of Education took the first steps toward placing a combined operating and bond issue on the November 3, 2020 ballot. The ballot issue will provide dollars for daily operations and a bond issue to meet critical District needs.
The combined operating and bond issue is estimated at 5.67 mills. The estimated cost of the November 3 ballot issue is approximately $198.37/year ($ 16.53/month) per $100,000 of property market value per the County Auditor’s website. Please note: These figures are estimates and could be adjusted slightly based on the official calculation by the Hamilton County Auditor.
“This vote is the result of a very public process that has taken place for nearly two years, and the decision to combine the two ballot issues was researched and recommended by two community based committees,” said Indian Hill Board of Education President Nancy Aichholz. “Community members readily saw that there are significant operational and capital needs that can no longer be delayed.”
The importance of the bond issue is to help protect the investment in the District’s current facilities; make security upgrades at buildings across the District; replace and maintain mechanical systems; and replace Indian Hill Middle School.
“Over the years, the District has had to divert funds from the daily operating budget to provide for building maintenance, upkeep, and upgrades needed throughout the District’s campus,” said Indian Hill School District Treasurer Mick Davis. “A bond would provide the District with a source of revenue specific to the capital needs, and operating dollars will focus on continuing to maintain our nationally recognized academic, art, and athletic programs.
“Additionally, the Indian Hill School District is an excellent value at 23.99 mills; our District’s tax rate is the lowest in Hamilton County out of all 23 districts. Even with the passage of the November 3 levy, the District would remain among the lowest.”
The District did an excellent job managing the last bond issue – structuring the refinancing of bonds to achieve taxpayer savings of $8.5 million. That savings comes in the form of reduced millage paid towards the bonds. In 2019, a significant share of what residents pay on this bond expired – reducing the bond debt by 1.74 mills. That means an annual reduction of $304 on a $500,000 home, and an annual saving of $609 on a $1 million home. Additionally, residents will see another reduction of 1.4 mills in 2027.
The last operating levy was more than 25 years ago. The District continues to operate from levies passed in the 1980s and earlier with a near-zero inflationary increase.
If the levy passes, then the District can meet the operational and capital needs. If the levy fails in November, then the District would need to defer routine repairs and fixes needed in building by an estimated $618,000 in the 2020-2021 school year. This decision would be made to protect the District operating fund in order to maintain programming as much as possible. It is important to note, however, that deferred maintenance will not be enough to balance the budget. In addition to deferred maintenance, the District would need to enact an estimated $1.5 million in districtwide cuts and reductions effective with the 2021-2022 school year.
“Throughout the Facilities Assessment process, it was clear our community values the nationally recognized educational services our District delivers,” said Indian Hill Superintendent Kirk Koennecke. “We feel confident our residents will continue to support our vision of Enduring Excellence in Learning, Leadership, Innovation, and Service.”
Superintendent Koennecke and Treasurer Davis plan to hold informational sessions at Indian Hill Middle School to meet with any interested community members who would like to tour the facility. Those dates will be communicated at a later time.
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Photo caption: The Indian Hill Board of Education approved placing a combined operating and bond issue on the November 3, 2020, ballot to secure the future of the District during a special meeting March 12.