Union Township voters approve referendum

2013-05-07T19:40:00Z 2013-05-08T00:31:04Z Union Township voters approve referendumBob Kasarda bob.kasarda@nwi.com, (219) 548-4345 nwitimes.com

Residents of the Union Township said "Yes" Tuesday to a referendum seeking a property tax hike to help the local school system make up for state cuts in education funding.

The referendum passed by a vote of 1,057 to 759.

Union Township Schools asked voters to approve an increase of just under 22 cents per $100 in assessed valuation, which would generate an additional $1 million a year, School Superintendent John Hunter has said.

The proposed increase, which would be outside the tax caps, would add $65 a year to a home valued at $100,000 and $195 to a $200,000 home, he has said.

With the proposed increase added to current rate of 0.94 per $100 assessed value, the rate would still be less than what it was in 2012 as a result of increased valuation in the area, he has said. The total tax rate for residents living in Union Township is $1.56.

Hunter has said Union Township cut six elementary teachers since 2010 and has carried out retirement buyouts. Travel also has been reduced, and staff cuts have reduced the amount of time buildings are made available for public use.

If Tuesday's referendum is not approved, Hunter said he is prepared to initiate an effort Wednesday with the School Board to figure out where to make deeper cuts. He said 85 percent of the targeted budget is composed of salaries and benefits.

"We will be talking about programs that hit kids," he said. "We will be talking about people."

Union Township has 1,532 students and 6,000 registered voters.

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