Does Oregon-Davis’ Levy Request Effect the County Through Circuit Breaker?

Oregon-Davis Jr./Sr. High School

Why is the Circuit Breaker so important to every property owner in Starke County?

The Circuit Breaker is part of a property tax relief measure offered to various types of property. Spending in one area of government, when it trips the Circuit Breaker, means spending must be reduced somewhere else.

That’s why last week’s presentation at the Starke County Council meeting by Oregon-Davis School Superintendent Dr. Steve Disney was important to not only residents there, but to residents throughout the county.

After Dr. Disney’s presentation, Councilmen Mark Smith and Dave Pearman requested a meeting between the Oregon-Davis officials, county government officials and financial experts to see how a $.19 per $100 assessed valuation increase to keep the school system there afloat is going to affect the county-wide infrastructure.

“The specific thing we really wanted to know at this point is how this is going to impact the Circuit Breaker,” said Council President Dave Pearman. “Not only will it put us over, but we’re also concerned – we just don’t want to bump our levy. What we’d like to make sure is that we’re comfortable with this, not just close, but that this is going to have us in a comfort zone with the Circuit Breaker.”

Pearman says its imperative that county government and the school systems here work together and to realize how their budgets impact each other.

“There’s always been a distance between county government and school government. That’s really the only way that we’re going to be able to move forward and effectively manage the county is to be able to have a better rhetoric, a better line of sight with each other.”

Pearman says it’s simple. If the Circuit Breaker is tripped at Oregon-Davis, the money is reduced somewhere else.

“Since we’re basically taking the money from one allowable pot, when it comes to the County General, unfortunately what we’re finding, is that the State really hasn’t done a good job of explaining the Circuit Breaker to the public. The average taxpayer and average voter is not aware that at that level, as soon as the property tax hits the Circuit Breaker, the money has to be rebated somewhere. Where it gets rebated is in our budget to run the county.”

Pearman has the utmost respect for Dr. Disney, and the Oregon-Davis officials for being so transparent.

“My hat goes off to Dr. Disney. Obviously, this will put the spotlight on more and I think the residents of Oregon-Davis will certainly want to scrutinize this more. There’s obviously going to be some influence from the whole county. In this case, if it does effect through Circuit Breaker, then it’s going to effect the whole county not just the Oregon-Davis area.”

The $.19 increase in property taxes in the Oregon-Davis district will be voted on by those residents in the spring primary.

Dr. Disney said that the Circuit Breaker should not effect the county’s budget. He said that by going to a referendum, the impact of the increase would not effect the Circuit Breaker. Government officials are wanting to set up a meeting with Oregon-Davis officials and representatives of Umbaugh and Associates on the Circuit Breaker impact.