Voters approve three Hamilton County school referendums

Voters approved funding referendums for three Hamilton County school districts on Tuesday.

Carmel Clay Schools and the Sheridan Community School Corp. had proposed seven-year tax hikes for operational funding, and Westfield Washington Schools asked taxpayers to cover the costs of $90 million in construction projects.

Carmel Clay Schools had significant support for the measure, which it described as a “replacement” referendum, with 89 percent of voters approving it. The tax rate of 19 cents per $100 of assessed home value is expected to keep the overall school tax rate flat at 83 cents per $100 of assessed value. It will start in 2018.

In 2010, Carmel voters approved a seven-year tax hike of 16 cents per $100 of assessed value. That rate is set to expire at the end of the year.

“It’s a win for the community. It’s a win for the kids,” Carmel Clay Schools Superintendent Nicholas Wahl said in a live video on Facebook after he announced the results.

In Sheridan, 73 percent of voters supported the referendum with a tax hike of 25 cents per $100 of assessed value.

It is expected to cost a homeowner with a property valued at $200,000 an extra $120 per year, starting in 2018, according to the district. The actual hike will only be 6 cents, however, because the district has an expiring referendum tax of 19 cents per $100 of assessed value.

Westfield Washington Schools had the slimmest margin of victory, with 54 percent of voters supporting the referendum to fund $90 million in capital projects.

Westfield voters also approved an operating referendum in November, but revenue from that tax cannot be used to pay for construction projects.

The proposed tax rate of 30.79 cents per $100 of assessed home value is expected to cause property taxes to rise $301 annually for a home valued at $200,000, the district says. For a home valued at $300,000, taxes could rise $501.

School leaders said the referendum, which could be in place for up to 20 years, was needed to expand and maintain existing facilities.

The tax hike is expected to generate about $7.6 million annually to pay for expansions and renovations at growing Westfield High School ($42.1 million), Westfield Middle School ($16.7 million) and Westfield Intermediate School ($7.1 million). Westfield Washington Schools also plans to spend $24 million on district-wide renovations.

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