Beech Grove school referendum passes, two others fail

Voters in Beech Grove on Tuesday endorsed a tax increase to keep school buses operating, while other education-related measures in two Marion County townships failed.

Beech Grove voters overwhelmingly approved the referendum by an unofficial margin of 1,383-861, which translates to a 62-percent majority.

Strapped by the state’s new 1-percent property-tax cap, Beech Grove school officials asked voters in the referendum to forego the full tax cut in 2010 and instead let the schools use the money.

School officials said they would be forced to eliminate bus service if the referendum failed.

Franklin Township school administrators, however, were unsuccessful in their bid to get voters to not take the full tax cut.

Two items on the ballot that addressed the tax question failed by tallies of 4,930-2,192 (69 percent to 31 percent) and 4,395-2,240 (66 percent to 34 percent). School officials warned that defeats could force them to trim $9 million from the budget, likely by eliminating teaching positions and making cuts to the transportation budget.

In Perry Township, voters narrowly defeated a $98 million plan to renovate and expand facilities, by a 51 percent to 49 percent margin. The unofficial vote was 4,025-3,851.

Under a new state law, school districts must put major building projects to a public referendum vote.

Also, on Nov. 10, residents in the Hamilton Southeastern School District also will go to the polls to vote on a tax increase to close a budget deficit.

The referendum would last seven years and increase property taxes for a house with an assessed value of $100,000 by about $11 per year.

The school district faces a $5.5 million budget deficit and has said it will cut 60 teaching positions and reduce academic programs and extracurricular activities without the increase.

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