I have been asked by several persons about my position as a member of the Noblesville School Board who sought a tax increase by referendum. As this is an important issue to our community, I want to make my position clear.
My 12 years of service on the school board was a privilege. I am very proud of the body of work that was accomplished during that time. A closer look reveals the actions taken during my tenure certainly do not support the allegation that I am a spendthrift, nor was the board or Noblesville Schools. The necessity for a referendum was a result of state legislation that directly impacted high-growth school corporations like Noblesville. The additional funds sought by our referenda were necessary to maintain the status quo-level of funding, provide additional class space and expand Noblesville High School after the sale to Ivy Tech.
Following the incident at Noblesville West Middle School last May, it was clear that, as a community, we wanted to do everything reasonably possible to ensure the safety of our students and staff. That, together with meeting the competitive needs of our teachers, led the board to unanimously seek the additional funds needed to maintain our excellent school system. The voters approved the referendum, indicating that a majority of our citizens agreed with that need.
My experience has taught me that not every decision is easy, but it is not about winning a popularity contest. Governing is about setting a course for the future that is best for the community you serve and listening to and communicating to constituents about those actions. Maintaining an excellent school system is a worthy goal for our children and our community for many reasons, not the least of which is that the quality of a community’s school system is the No. 1 impetus for people to live, work and play in a city or town. That equates directly to maintaining high property values that benefit all of us.
As mayor of Noblesville, I will work to protect the tax base while deeply considering the impact on taxpayers, especially the elderly who are on a fixed income. My larger concerns at present are the currently unchecked and unaccounted for tax abatements, TIF projects (which further erode taxes that would otherwise go to schools and other taxing units) and other subsidies for developers.
When public dollars are spent to support private investment, it is critical that the dollars are accounted for to confirm that the expected return on investment occurs. And when public dollars are requested to support private investment, the return on investment needs to be more than one new job (as with a recent abatement request granted by the city council). While I am not opposed to offering incentives to companies that promise opportunities like attracting new residents and increasing overall assessed valuation, we will discuss and share with the public the return on investment, just like any business would need to do for such a hefty expenditure, and if the promises are not kept, we will seek reimbursement.
The recent big developments, announced with much fanfare, have not resulted in lower taxes for our community. Rather, we are paying more taxes (by way of the trash fee) and higher rates than our neighbors, looking strictly at the city rate. I will ensure that public dollars are spent in ways that increase assessed valuation, which lowers the rate for everyone.
This position has not made me particularly popular with the developers who are benefiting from these incentives. But I’m not representing them; I’m working to represent you, the residents of my hometown, Noblesville, Indiana. That is why my campaign is committed to not taking political contributions from any developers or contractors who work with the city.
Don’t be distracted. I am a proud fiscal conservative, and I will work hard every day to see that every tax dollar is spent wisely. I ask for your support and your vote on May 7.
Julia Church Kozicki