A referendum approved Tuesday by the Monroe County School Corporation Board of Trustees would raise property taxes about $0.14 per every $100 in home value.
The referendum is aimed at closing a $7.5 million funding gap. MCCSC Superintendent J.T. Coopman said that’s just enough to cover the cost of programs and personnel cut from the budget earlier this year, but he warns the unpredictability of future budget cuts and the number of students who will be enrolling in MCCSC schools next year could cause the dollar amount needed to change.
“Obviously you have to think in terms of where you going to be in two years, three years, six years and that’s really difficult to do in relationship to asking for enough but being reasonable enough in not putting too much of a burden back on the tax payers,” Coopman said. “Do I think that we need to have more by way of additional revenue? Absolutely.”
If the referendum passes, the increased tax rate would remain in effect for the next six years.
Coopman said school officials could have opted for a maximum of seven years, but Coopman said a six-year cycle would end the referendum in a general election year, meaning the school board could ask for another referendum without having to pay for a special vote — an occurrence Coopman said he thinks is likely.
In fact, Coopman said he wouldn’t rule out asking for second referendum even before that six year period ends.
“Depends on how things turn out in 2012, because that’s what we refer to as the funding cliff year. That’s when the stimulus money goes away and if the economy hasn’t sufficiently recovered in the state of Indiana, and I predict that it will not, then that will be a pretty good prognostication in relationship to a future referendum before the six year period,” Coopman said.
Without additional funding from a referendum, Coopman says the next step could be to start closing schools.