Local voters approve tax hikes for schools, but not for jail expansion

May 8, 2018

Residents in several area districts voted Tuesday to approve property tax hikes for additional school funding, but voters shot down a referendum to raise money for a new criminal justice complex in Hancock County.

School funding referendums were successful in the Metropolitan School District of Warren Township in Indianapolis, in Avon Community Schools in Hendricks County and in the Anderson and Alexandria school districts in Madison County.

Here’s a look at Tuesday’s referendum results:

Hancock County

Voters rejected a referendum designed to raise $55 million to finance the construction, renovation and expansion of the county’s criminal justice complex and repair the county courthouse roof.

About 53 percent of more than 10,500 voters turned down the proposal.

County officials say the jail, which was built in the 1980s and holds a maximum of 157 inmates, is typically overcrowded and lacks space for mental health and recovery programs. The jail frequently sends inmates to other counties for incarceration, paying about $35 per day per inmate.
The sheriff’s department said the jail is out of compliance with several state and federal safety regulations. A study found the inmate population could rise to 400 or more in the next 20 years.

A new four-story facility proposed for 123 E. Main St. would have room for up to 460 inmates.

The referendum called for a tax hike of 14.36 cents on each $100 of assessed value. It would have cost the homeowner of a $200,000 house about $133 per year, possibly on a permanent basis.

County officials said they plan to build the jail with or without passage of the referendum. They’ll just have to determine another method to fund it, likely through a different type of tax increase.

Warren Township

Warren Township officials sought a 21-cent property-tax hike per $100 of assessed home value to generate $5 million each year for the next eight years.

About 65 percent of voters approved the measure.

The extra cash will help cover transportation costs, teacher recruitment and retention, and an expansion of technology initiatives and school safety programs.

Residents with a $250,000 home in the district will see an annual property tax increase of just under $275.

Avon schools

Voters in Avon Community School Corp. approved a plan to raise $9.5 million to fund the hiring of about 100 staff members, including 50 teachers.

School officials said they want to reduce class size, attract and retain teaching staff and “increase instructional support and opportunities for students."

More than 55 percent of almost 10,500 voters approved a tax hike of 35.4 cents on each $100 of assessed value.

Based on the average home value in the district of $172,617, the tax hike would cost homeowners $282.72 per year for the next eight years.

Avon officials said failure to pass the referendum would likely result in more than 40 teaching positions being eliminated over the next three years, increased class sizes and a reduction in athletic and after-school opportunities.

Supporters say the district suffers from funding shortages because more than 70 percent of the property within its limits is single-family residential, which is subject to the lowest property tax rate (1 percent). They also say tax increment financing districts and tax abatements have also significantly lowered the amount of taxes coming from commercial properties in the district.

Madison County

More than 60 percent of voters in the Anderson Community Schools district approved two referendums.

One sought $41 million for capital improvements and the other $1.8 million for operating expenses.

The plan calls for funding to be used to create secure entrances at all schools, the construction of a field house at Anderson High School and to turn Eastside Elementary into an intermediate school.

Anderson voters agreed to a tax hike of 20.5 cents on each $100 of assessed value. The increase will cost the homeowner of a $200,000 house in the district about $133 per year.

About 73 percent of voters in the Alexandria Community Schools district approved a plan to raise $19.3 million for repairing the high school and adding space at the intermediate school to make room for all elementary students in the district.

The Alexandria referendum calls for a tax hike of 50 cents on each $100 of assessed value. It would cost the homeowner of a $100,000 house about $102 per year.



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