Students work on an assignment at Swanson Traditional School on Thursday. South Bend Community School Corp. will likely seek a taxpayer referendum next year. The district is expected to face an additional $10 million loss in property tax revenue as a result of state-mandated tax caps taking full effect in the county. Tribune Photo/SANTIAGO FLORES
Students work on an assignment at Swanson Traditional School on Thursday. South Bend Community School Corp. will likely seek a taxpayer referendum next year. The district is expected to face an additional $10 million loss in property tax revenue as a result of state-mandated tax caps taking full effect in the county. Tribune Photo/SANTIAGO FLORES
ELKHART — Elkhart school leaders face tough decisions about where to cut budgets after the district lost a multimillion-dollar referendum this month.

So does Elkhart’s failure, including losing by a large margin — along with the trend of fewer referendums passing in Indiana this year — raise red flags for other districts that could soon propose referendums, such as the South Bend Community School Corp.?

John Anella, president of the South Bend school board, said he thinks “lessons could be learned.”

“They had a strong opposition,” he said, “and we all need to spend some time looking at what happened there.”

The South Bend district will likely decide to ask voters to approve a referendum in May 2020.

Next year, Anella said, the district is expected to face an additional $10 million loss in property tax revenue as a result of state-mandated tax caps taking full effect in the county.

That would double the $10 million not realized by the district this year because of the state’s “circuit breaker” law passed in 2008, which caps property taxes at 1% of the net assessed value for homesteads, 2% for rental homes and farmland, and 3% for businesses.

The law allowed the county to exempt certain long-term debt from the tax caps; but that exemption will expire in 2020, resulting in greater losses for school districts and local governments.

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