South Bend’s school board president says when the full force of property tax caps is felt in St. Joseph County in 2020, the district could be forced to make “devastating” cuts.

“I just don’t think it’s fair,” John Anella said.

The answer, he said, could be to seek a referendum this year or next year to ask taxpayers if they’re willing to pay higher taxes in return for more money being funneled to the school system. 

If the measure fails, he said, cuts could be made to transportation services, administrative positions and more buildings could close.

In a year, the district could lose up to $10 million after an exemption to a state property tax cap expires, district officials predict.

Anella said the system’s reorganization plan in 2018 was a move members hoped would help fill the gap.

“It’s keeping our head above water for the moment,” he said of the plan, which helped save the system about $8 million. “We got ourselves in front of it, but it’s still a steady decline each year.”

Copyright © 2019, South Bend Tribune