Indiana

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Indiana schools have to seek voter approval for large construction projects and levy increases outside the property tax cap.

Why Do Schools Ask Voters To Raise Their Own Property Taxes?

Background

Because of newly-minted constitutional limitations on the rate at which Indiana schools can tax property, more and more districts are likely to turn directly to voters to offset shortfalls in state funding.

There are two types of school questions that can appear on the ballot in Indiana — construction referenda and general fund referenda. The former funds major facilities projects, including new construction and building renovation. The latter deals with school operating expenses, which can include everything from teacher salaries to transportation expenses.

Between 2008 and 2013, 92 school questions appeared on the ballot in Indiana — and voters approved half. It’s not uncommon for districts to ask two or three times before voters say yes. Of the 14 districts that have pursued multiple referenda, six have made three or more appeals.

Often, school districts scale back their requests the second time. That’s because for every 10 cents a district asks for, the referendum is one to two percentage points less likely to pass.

Researchers say Indiana is still relatively new to school referenda, and it’s too soon to tell what impact elections will have on school budgets. But you can keep track of which districts have — and haven’t — passed their tax levy increases using our referenda scorecard.

 

Latest Posts

Q&A: Referendum Or Consolidation

John Krauss works with IUPUI's Public Policy Institute

Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels talks alot about government efficiency.  In 2007, he commissioned a study to discover where local governments could streamline their operations. The goal was to find ways to provide the same services with fewer tax dollars.  There was one major educational suggestion to come out of that report– eliminate all school corporations [...]

Discussion: Would You Support A Referendum In Your Area?

If your school asked, would you voluntarily raise your own taxes?  That’s the essential question voters in many of Indiana’s smallest school districts could be asking themselves in the next few years.  So how do you feel about that?  We want to here from both experts and voters, so tell us your theory.  Tell us [...]

Q&A: Should Voters Support Referendums?

David Dresslar, Executive Director of the Center for Excellence in Leadership and Learning at the University of Indianapolis

School districts in three states neighboring Indiana — Illinois, Ohio, and Michigan — regularly ask voters for higher taxes and more revenues, often to fill critical holes in their budgets. Indiana might join them. This year, five districts have referendums on their ballots. Even after state funding cuts and a cap on property tax collections [...]

Why The Property Tax Cap Amendment Doesn't Ensure Schools Are Funded Equally

It’s a classic case of the haves and the have nots.  Many small rural school districts are faced with high poverty rates, which effectively prevent them from raising funds through a referendum, while the state’s wealthiest districts have already passed ballot issues allowing them to raise their tax rates past the constitutional limit. Here are [...]

The Five Largest Property Tax Levies In Indiana

Referendum season is in the air and we could soon hear the first merry bells of pollsters out campaigning to raise your local property taxes.  Before you vote, check out our list of the five districts that get the most property tax money.  In some cases, property values are high.  In others, large populations have bolstered [...]

Students Must Pay To Ride Buses, School Board Decides

The Indianapolis Star has been following the story: Franklin Township Schools students will be able to ride the bus to class, but their families will have to pay out of their own pockets for the service. After voters turned down a property tax increase for the district, officials had planned to stop transportation of students, [...]

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