The Northwest Allen County Schools corporation is expecting no increase in its tax rate in 2021. The NACS Board of School Trustees is set to adopt an $83.7 million budget Oct. 14.

NACS’ assessed valuation for 2021 is estimated at $2.66 billion — an increase in nearly $2.5 million from this year’s certified assessed valuation.

“We have, the last two years, grown in assessed valuation by about 10%, and right now we’re estimated around that same amount,” NACS Business Manager Bill Mallers said during the district’s Sept. 28 budget hearing.

Mallers said the estimated levy the district expects to receive totals $27.4 million, compared to the $25.1 million it received in 2020.

The district is advertising an appropriation of $15,335,855 for debt service in 2021. Just over $2.6 million will be budgeted toward the debt accrued by the referendum to construct the district’s new elementary school, Aspen Meadow. The maximum rate associated with the referendum debt is about 12 cents.

The 2021 plan includes an appropriation of $48.8 million for the district’s education fund, which is used for expenditures classified as instructional or instructional support, including salaries, wages and benefits. The district’s health insurance premiums increased by 8% for the 2020-21 cycle, and an additional 20 full-time employees were added to the staff. The education fund comes primarily from a state grant based on enrollment. That money comes from state sales and income taxes.

The district’s unofficial student count for September 2020 is estimated at 7,839, which represents an increase of about 18 students. Mallers said there will be an official student count in 2021, which will likely show a decrease in enrollment due to one-semester Carroll High School seniors graduating.

The district also heard plans for capital projects and bus replacement.

The 3-year capital project plan, 2021-2023 — which includes acquisitions and projects totaling $10,000 or greater — will bear a maximum levy increase of 6.41% and a total budget of $1,237,100. The most expensive project planned is related to asphalt sealing and concrete repair at Arcola Elementary School. Other 2021 projects include carpet repair at Cedar Canyon Elementary School; asphalt and sidewalk repairs at Eel River Elementary School; asphalt and concrete repair at Hickory Center Elementary School; carpet repair at Huntertown Elementary School; restroom repairs and the purchase of a new tractor at Perry Hill Elementary School; floor repairs at Carroll Middle School; asphalt and concrete repairs, and HVAC upgrades at Maple Creek Middle School; HVAC upgrades and the purchase of a service truck at Carroll High School and Carroll Freshman Center; a new scoreboard for the high school’s softball field; replacement of the high school’s basketball hoops; and security cameras and fob upgrades at the district transportation center.

The district also approved additional appropriations for other capital improvements, including a replacement of the chiller at Hickory Center, replacement of cracked brick at Carroll High School and light replacement in buildings throughout NACS. Those appropriations are meant to maintain the district’s tax rate and make up for tax cap losses, Mallers said.

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