The Northwest Allen County Schools Board of Trustees met at the end of August to discuss a variety of topics that affect the corporation. One of the bigger items on the agenda was the voluntary annexation of North West Allen County Schools (NACS) properties.
Huntertown Town Manager Beth Shellman and Council Member Brandon Seifert spoke to school board members and requested that the school corporation consider the voluntary annexation of Carroll Middle School and Eel River Elementary School into the town limits.
Huntertown officials say the town is growing rapidly and they want to continue annexing to the West and to the North. They say the first step in that process is annexing the school corporation’s property.
Huntertown Town Manager Beth Shellman pointed out “The town doesn’t normally extend their water and sewage unless you’re in our corporate limits, currently, Carroll Middle School and Eel River Elementary school utilize Huntertown’s water and sewage systems.”
“This is the only school property that we have service for utilities that is not apart of our corporate limits. The school doesn’t pay property tax so it really doesn’t affect you one way or another. And you’re already on our utilities” said Shellman.
If NACS does not sign the voluntary annexation, Huntertown will have to opt for an involuntary annexation. Town officials say it is more costly and takes longer than the voluntary annexation, but it’s something they are willing to do.
“The school wants to have a good relationship with Huntertown and not be in an adversarial posture, but the property tax caps are the issue,” said NACS School Board President Ronald Felger.
Shellman said the fiscal plan shows that there is zero negative tax impact for the school corporation.
Huntertown officials say that by annexing, they will also be taking on a portion of the street maintenance on Hathaway Road with no additional tax increase coming from the school.
In response to Shellman, Felger stated that following the last annexation, the corporation lost about $60,000 in the first year due to the property tax caps. Although the proposed annexation is projected to be tax neutral for the district it could lead to future annexations, which could open the door to future property tax cap loses.
Additionally, NACS School Board Vice President Kent Somers stated that he doesn’t think Carroll Road and Hathaway Road could handle the additional 1,600 to 1,800 houses and the traffic they would bring.
“Huntertown has a 5 year pavement improvement plan, and the road reconstruction project on Carroll Road will be done next year and the Hathaway Road project is set to be done in 2027” said Spellman.
After hearing from Huntertown Officials, Spellman and Seifert, the NACS School Board decided they needed more time to consider before signing the petition for voluntary annexation.
“It sounds to me like we need a little more information, but we’re not saying no…” said Felger.
The school board doesn’t want the burden of the property tax cap losses to fall on the taxpayers.
“It’s just the estimated property tax cap losses that have to be made up.” said NACS Superintendent Wayne Barker.
The NACS school board motioned to table the conversation on the Huntertown annexation until they receive further information.