The Indiana Department of Local Government Finance (DLGF) released annual debt reports for local units of government at the end of last week, noting which area government units have debt and how much. The report details debts owed as of Dec. 31, 2011.
The numbers listed are a sum of all anticipated payments for each unit of government, through the life of bonds, lease agreements or other debts, and not the amount that is currently due by any unit of government. The amount of time covered by the totals presented by the state varies, and is noted with each unit below.
LaGrange County posted no outstanding principal or interest debt through 2011. The only debt listed was for outstanding lease payments of $1,631,734. That includes a payment of $988,118 in 2012, $469,025 in 2013 and $174,590 2021.
As of the reporting date, the LaGrange County Library had the largest outstanding principal debt, reported at $6,920,000, with $3,030,332 in outstanding interest, totaling $9,950,332. The amount listed is the sum of all principal and interest payments through the life of the bonds issued, ending in 2029.
The Town of Shipshewana was just behind the library, with a total of $9,819,940. Of that, $1,797,495 is principal debt and $473,445 in interest. The remaining $7,549,000 is in total lease payments for the fire station and the Shipshewana Town Center, as calculated through 2030.
The Town of LaGrange posted $3,826,000 in principal and $2,456,040 in interest. The town has a total of $577,307 in outstanding lease payments. The total is the sum of principal, interest and lease payments to be made by the town through 2041.
The Town of Wolcottville has posted $4,464,608 in principal and $1,992,910 in interest, for a total of $6,457,518, which includes principal and interest payments through 2035. Wolcottville had no lease payments noted in the report.
Topeka had the lowest of all towns, with only $470,381 in total debt. The town has $395,000 in principal and $75,381 in interest. The total is the sum of the payments of those amounts through 2018.
Among the schools, Westview School Corporation has $30,373,518 in lease payments scheduled out through 2027, with more than half of that the remaining payments on Meadowview Elementary. No other debt was listed for the corporation.
Lakeland School Corporation posted $7,345,238 in total debt that is due between 2012 and 2030. Of that $7,364,000 is in lease payments. Only $439,952 is in principal and $36,286 in interest. The corporation has $495,000 in federal credits.
Prairie Heights Community School Corporation was listed at $3,412,873. That is the sum of $3,215,000 in principal and $197,873 interest that will be paid up to 2015.
None of the county’s townships posted owing any debt as of December 2011.
According to the DLGF, “Payments on local government indebtedness consume a significant portion of property taxes. For property taxes payable in 2012, 26 percent of the certified levies were attributable to debt service funds. Statewide, debt service levies represent $1.6 billion of the $6.3 billion in certified levies.”
Compliance with reporting requirements increased significantly in 2012. Of the more than 2,400 political subdivisions in Indiana, 93.7 percent reported debt information to the DLGF. In 2011, only 51 percent of units reported this information to the DLGF. This streamlined process created more accountability and greatly increased the percentage of units who submitted a report.
The DLGF required units to report lease rentals that apply to real property (buildings and other permanent structures) or any equipment in a lease-to-own arrangement (fire trucks). Short-term leases on equipment such as copiers or vehicles were not required for the report.
The vast majority of the $18.8 billion statewide in lease payments represents bonds that are issued by a building corporation created to issue the debt. The political subdivision then makes lease payments to the building corporation in a lease-to-own arrangement. These arrangements are the main mechanism for financing construction for schools.