How much does your local government spend on you? Middlebury leads the pack
Posted: 09/18/2013 at 5:00 am
By: Tim Vandenack
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Road construction, as pictured in this scene from S.R. 19 near Indiana Avenue in Elkhart on Nov. 28, 2012, is one way in which local government invests on behalf of its citizens. (Truth Photo By Jennifer Shephard)
Per resident spending in Middlebury, $5,278.98, even exceeded expenditures on those in Elkhart, according to figures from an Indiana Department of Local Government Finance study completed earlier this year. The numbers take into account county, municipal, township, school and library district expenditures in each locale.
Next on the list after Middlebury came per capita spending in Bristol, $5,216.70; Elkhart, $5,065.92; and Goshen, $4,924.81. Then came Nappanee, $4,854.62; Millersburg, $4,588.30; and Wakarusa, $4,278.41.
The figures come from a May 1 DLGF study outlining per capita spending in most of Indiana’s local governmental units — the counties, cities and towns, townships, school districts and library systems. They are particularly germane now, as Elkhart County, Elkhart, Goshen and other taxing units craft spending plans for 2014.
LOWER SPENDING OUTSIDE CITIES
Unsurprisingly, per spending expenditures were lower in the unincorporated corners of Elkhart County, where tax funds earmarked for cities and towns aren’t spent. In southern Concord Township, outside the city of Elkhart and inside the Concord Community Schools district, per capita spending in 2012 totaled $3,261.31.
In Jefferson Township, located between Elkhart, Middlebury, Bristol and Goshen, spending reached $3,288.51 while the figure in Jackson Township, a largely rural area south of Goshen, totaled $2,921.58.
Of course the per capita figures — total spending divided by number of residents — don’t reflect the value of services each resident in the varied locales receives. But they demonstrate, roughly, the relative government spending level from locale to locale.
Here are some other highlights from the DLGF report:
• Elkhart County: County government spending by itself in 2012, $1,002.05 per person, ranked 66th among the 89 counties for which figures were available. That was up 1.5 percent from $987.24 in 2011.
• The cities: The city of Nappanee spent most per person, $2,083.72, among the seven cities and towns here. Spending in Elkhart amounted to $1,742.57 per person and totaled $1,390.63 in Goshen, lowest of the seven communities. The DLGF report noted that economies of scale in providing services in larger communities may “reduce the net cost of providing a given level of service to taxpayers.”
Spending by the city of Middlebury totaled $1,854.29 per person, third among the seven locales.
• Down from 2011:Per capita spending dipped 14.5 percent from 2011 to 2012 in Goshen, from $1,627.39 to $1,390.63. It fell 13.4 percent in Elkhart, from $2,011.80 to $1,742.57.
• Compared to the rest of Indiana: Per capita spending in all seven locales here in 2012 ranked in the top half of the 519 Indiana communities evaluated. Nappanee spending ranked 138th among the 519, the highest ranked Elkhart County locale. Spending in Elkhart sat at 187th place and spending in Goshen sat in the 252nd spot, lowest of the communities here.
• School spending: Per capita expenditures in the school districts rank highest among the varied taxing entities, and Goshen schools topped the list of the seven school systems here, spending $2,433.99 per person living in the district. Spending by Elkhart Community Schools came in at $2,204.93 per person, while Wa-Nee schools sat at the bottom, $1,617.45 per person in the district.
• Per student spending: Gauged as spending per student, expenditures in the Goshen school district also topped the list in Elkhart County, $14,511.68 per child in 2012. Next came the Elkhart system, $13,815.57, while Fairfield Community Schools spent the least, $10,864.76 per student.