What is the exact referendum language on the ballot?
The referendum ballot language is established by Indiana law, approved by the Indiana Department of Local Government Finance.
The language in the May 2022 referendum was passed by the politicians in Indianapolis this past spring in an effort to scare voters and take away local control. It uses a formula which does not correctly reflect the lowering of the tax rate.
The referendum ballot as approved reads:
“Shall Valparaiso Community Schools continue to impose increased property taxes paid to the school corporation by homeowners and businesses for eight (8) years immediately following the holding of the referendum for the purpose of managing class sizes and essential health & safety initiatives, retaining teachers and staff, funding academic and educationally related programs and changing the maximum operating referendum tax levy fund rate from $0.2042 to $0.1495 per one hundred dollars ($100) of assessed valuation? The property tax increase requested in this referendum was originally approved by the voters in May, 2015, and originally increased the average property tax paid to the school corporation per year on a residence within the school corporation by 23.4% and originally increased the average property tax paid to the school corporation per year on a business property within the school corporation by 19.4%.”
The formula VCS was required to follow for the percentages of the tax effect 7 years ago, is not an accurate representation due to several factors. There is no information required on the ballot concerning the effect of the renewal of the referendum. Averages of overall taxing district rates and assessed values from seven years ago are distorted in the formula and not truly representative of the taxpayer base. The actual increase to an average median value home in 2016 (first year of the referendum) was $179.19. For a home in Valparaiso, this represented 9.95% of the tax bill, not 23.4% as is implied. The school’s tax rate other than the operating referendum decreased over the last six years.
The legislators and regulators in Indianapolis would not allow this information to be included. While the state did allow “changing the maximum referendum property tax rate from $0.2042 to $0.1495,” they required the school to use the word “changing” instead of the word “decreasing” or “reducing” which accurately reflects the rate reduction.