VALPARAISO | Early voting started Monday for Porter County's school referendums in Hebron and Union Township.
Only three people had taken advantage of the chance to vote early on the issues Monday. Early voting will continue at the voter registration office at the Porter County Administration Center in Valparaiso until noon May 6. The special elections for both will be held May 7.
The MSD Boone Township School District, which includes Hebron High School, is seeking an additional property tax levy of 23 cents for every $100 of assessed value. It is expected to raise $530,000 a year for seven years beginning in 2014. The board said the levy will make up for part of the $800,000 lost each year since 2009 due to cuts in state funding and the property tax caps.
"The additional tax won't make up for the entire amount our schools lost, but it will keep our schools out of the 'danger zone' of painful cuts and budget deficits," Mike Reick, cochairman of the Citizens United for Quality Education, said.
The levy is estimated to cost the owner of a $144,800 home an extra $12 a month.
The Union Township Schools District is seeking approval of a 22-cent increase per $100 of assessed value, which is expected to raise about $1 million a year for seven years. A home assessed at $100,000 would pay $65 more a year while a $200,000 home would pay $195 more.
The $10,000 cost of each referendum will be paid by the school districts, but Porter County election board representative Kathy Kozuszek said the board approved the use of paper ballots for the election, which will save $15,000 to $20,000 each.
The voter registration office is open for early voting from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays and will be open from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. April 27 and May 4.
Kozuszek said the deadline for requesting an absentee ballot is April 29. However, she urged residents to apply as soon as they know they will need one because of the time involved. The completed ballot then has to be mailed back by May 7.