HEBRON | Despite some concern expressed by residents and business owners regarding higher taxes in Boone Township, the School Board approved a general fund referendum.
The property tax increase of 0.2338 cents per $100 of assessed valuation would raise $530,000 per year for seven years. A resident whose property is valued at $144,600 would pay an additional $144 more per year, school officials said. A resident whose property was valued at $200,000 would pay an additional $228 more per year.
The referendum will be on the ballot in May. If approved by taxpayers, the Metropolitan School District of Boone Township would not see any money until June 2014.
School officials say the general fund referendum will be in effect for seven years, raising $530,000 each year from 2014 through 2020.
School Board President David Molchan read the resolution to a packed board room Tuesday night.
"We cannot carry out the educational duties of the school district without this tax increase," Molchan said.
Sharon McKay, owner of Hebron Realty & Insurance, said she believes Hebron has a good school district but she questioned if officials could find another way to support the school budget without having to raise taxes.
"Can you cut teachers in lieu of a referendum?" she asked. "With the economy being what it is, I don't see how people can keep paying these taxes. This hurts business and runs business owners out of the community."
Superintendent George Letz said teachers would have to be cut if the referendum did not pass. He said the district's troubles began a few years ago when former Gov. Mitch Daniels cut $300 million from K-12 education. Letz said the district lost $332,000 almost overnight. He said the district gets $5,190 per student in state support, less than the state average of $5,668 per student.
Businessman Harry Hruska said his taxes have gone up about 10 times since he's been in Boone Township.
"I haven't seen a lot of growth in the business or the town. I challenge you to find a better way than just going up on the taxes," he said.
Hebron High School English teacher Jared Grigsby, of Valparaiso, said he was offered a teaching job paying him several thousand dollars more than what he made in Hebron.
"I chose to stay in Hebron because it's such a great school district and a great community," he said.
Grigsby also said he works a second job to make ends meet and can't afford to live in Hebron but wants to remain in his position rather than apply for a job in central Indiana where he knows he would make more money and be closer to family.
With tears rolling down her cheeks, Hebron Elementary School kindergarten teacher Elizabeth Levrio said she has 28 youngsters in her class.
"It's your money, but this is my life. We're doing everything we can. Getting rid of teachers is not going to solve the problem," she said.