By Robert Herrington
On May 7, 4,188 voters in Noblesville spoke on behalf of the community and impacted not only Noblesville’s plans for the future but Hamilton County’s as well.
With the passing of Noblesville Schools’ special referendum (2,868 yes votes to 1,320 no votes), citizens approved the $28-million proposed project that calls for the selling of Noblesville East Middle School, 300 N. 17th St., to Hamilton County, which will lease the building to Ivy Tech for $1.
The county will pay Noblesville Schools $13.4 million for NEMS and the City of Noblesville will contribute $6.1 million ($5 million to assist Ivy Tech in renovations and $1.1 million to Noblesville Schools). Within the newly adopted budget, the state will also provide millions for renovations.
“It’s the most exciting thing to happen to Noblesville and the most exciting thing to happen to Hamilton County,” Hamilton County Commissioner Steve Dillinger said, adding that the biggest asset of the deal was bringing a higher education campus to the community.
“Counties all over the state are trying to get Ivy Tech,” he said. “They want to come here desperately.”
The move also has several economic benefits for Hamilton County. Dillinger said a full-service Ivy Tech campus could employ as many as 50 full-time staff and faculty. In addition to bringing jobs, it will also bring commuters to the area.
“It could serve as many as 4,600 students expanding up to 10,000 in the future. How much gas will they buy? How much will the restaurants benefit?” he asked. “How many companies might consider Hamilton County due to Ivy Tech’s skilled training classes?”
Hamilton County was selected as a location the community college wanted to house a campus due to its growing population, which increased almost 50 percent from 2000 to 2010 (nearly 275,000 people), according to former Ivy Tech Central Indiana Chancellor Kathleen Lee. A Hamilton County location provides residents easier access to college credits, technical certifications and associate degrees. Since 2007-2008, Ivy Tech has seen an increase of 98 percent, or nearly 5,000 students, from Hamilton County. Currently, 70 percent of courses Hamilton County students take are outside of the county.
Hamilton County will issue an $11.9-million bond for 20 years. This equates to $920,000 in debt service per year or a $0.0053 tax rate impact based on the 2012 assessed values. For a $100,000 home, this is a projected tax rate increase of $1.74; $5.18 for a $200,000 home; and $8.63 for a $300,000 home.
However, this tax rate is based on a 4.5-percent interest rate and current market trends project that amount to be closer to 3.5 percent or possibly lower. The projected amounts are also based on this year’s assessed value and include no growth.