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Superintendent Jeffrey Hendrix

School Town of Munster Superintendent Jeffrey Hendrix is pictured.

MUNSTER — School officials will ask town voters this spring to raise taxes to repair several school buildings.

The Lake County Elections Board voted Tuesday to approve a 50-word question tentatively scheduled to appear on a ballot in a May 2 special election.

The referendum states school officials need to borrow about $48 million for repair and renovation work at Eads Elementary, Elliott Elementary, Frank Hammond Elementary, Wilbur Wright Middle and Munster High schools.

They need local voters to approve an increase in the school district's tax rate by 43 cents per $100 assessed value to service this new debt. The current tax rate is $3.23 per $100 assessed value.

Superintendent Jeffrey Hendrix, who didn't discuss the details of the work with the Elections Board, said last fall that Munster High, Frank Hammond Elementary and other school buildings need roof repairs and Frank Hammond also needs a new heating, air conditioning and ventilation system, carpeting, flooring, library area and more floor space.

He said the school district can't afford the work despite recent savings in operation costs because of recent staff retirements and layoffs.

Voters approved a school referendum in 2013 that is still raising an extra $3 million a year.

Munster has experienced revenue shortfalls because of state-mandated reductions of local property taxes. The Indiana General Assembly passed a law in 2008 establishing referendums as a new mechanism of school funding.

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Lake County Reporter

Bill has reported in Lake County since 1972 after graduating from Indiana University. He has worked for The Times since 1997, covering the courts and local government during much of his tenure. Born and raised in New Albany, Ind., he is a native Hoosier.