LETTER: City Of Aurora Seeks Transparency In South Dearborn HS Building Project

Letter from Aurora Mayor Donnie Hastings, Jr. and Clerk-Treasurer Benjamin Turner Editor's note: Manchester is an unincorporated area, unlike the City of Aurora, Town of Dillsboro, and Town of Moores Hill. For more on the potential tax increase to the city, towns, and unincorporated areas in the school district, read this article. Like many citizens in the City of Aurora, we have been closely following media reports regarding the pending building improvement project being pursued by the South Dearborn Community School Corporation. As the petition signature race drew near, and we reviewed the potential financial impact on our citizens and our City, it became clear that the proper information is either not being pursued by South Dearborn Schools or not being shared with the public. Last week, the City of Aurora made a Public Records Request to South Dearborn Schools. The City requested any financial analysis performed by South Dearborn Schools in anticipation of the project. In other words, we wanted to know how this project could affect our citizens as well as our City.  For example, would our residents’ property taxes increase because of the project? If so, how much? Would property taxes increase so much so as to trigger the so-called “circuit breaker” property tax caps, which could potentially decrease the amount of tax revenue the City receives? RELATED: South Dearborn HS Petition & Remonstrance Race Begins Wednesday The attorney for South Dearborn Schools referred us to a financial report which we have attached to this release. In short, this report raises more questions than it provides answers. For example:

- Why doesn’t payment on debt servicing begin until 2025?

- Why are estimated tax bill impacts only provided for Aurora, Dillsboro, and Moores Hill? Don’t the citizens of Manchester get to know the impact on their property taxes?

- Why are estimated tax bill impacts only provided for homes with values of $100,000 or less in Aurora, $120,000 or less in Dillsboro, and $130,000 in Moores Hill? Aren’t there properties worth more than this in each of these communities?

Based on our review of the information, it would not appear as though a thorough examination of the tax consequences to the municipalities involved--or more importantly, its citizens---was done. The South Dearborn School Board either didn’t ask the right questions or didn’t want to know the answers. Either circumstance is troubling. Make no mistake: We believe some of the improvements being discussed would be beneficial to furthering the educational mission of South Dearborn Schools. Some of these improvements would help make South Dearborn Schools an even better place to educate our children. However, there must be transparency in order to give the community all the information necessary to decide which petition they wish to sign. It is our sincere hope that the community gets the answers it deserves. Sincerely, Donnie Hastings, Jr., Mayor, City of Aurora Benjamin Turner, Clerk-Treasurer, City of Aurora   RELATED STORIES: South Dearborn HS Petition & Remonstrance Race Begins Wednesday School Board Vote Puts South Dearborn HS Upgrades To Signature Race Clerk Verifies Enough Signatures To Challenge South Dearborn HS Project Petition Puts South Dearborn High School Improvements Into Question South Dearborn Will Continue Facilities Discussion Monday Argument Over Football Field, New Building At South Dearborn Facilities Hearing South Dearborn School Board Recommends Up To $13.5M In Improvements South Dearborn School Upgrades Proposal To Get One More Look Aug. 10 Proposed South Dearborn School Upgrades Get Another Look July 20 South Dearborn School Upgrade Proposals To Be Discussed June 14 South Dearborn Planning For Potential School Upgrades Once Faced With Closure, Moores Hill School Finding Its Way Back

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