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Lincoln Community Center

Highland voters were asked to support a referendum that would raise $15 million to expand and improve the town's Lincoln Center.

Voters appeared to hand defeat to public referendums that would raise taxes in unincorporated Calumet Township and Highland.

The Lake Ridge School Corp. asked taxpayers in unincorporated Calumet Township to pass two referendums.

One would have raised $44.34 million to renovate various New Tech School buildings, and the other would maintain the district's current instructional spending levels. It would have increased property taxes in the school district by $1.1192 per $100 assessed value on private property.

Both of those referendums appear to face insurmountable margins as of press time.

Many of the district's school buildings are more than four decades old, including Hosford Park Elementary, which needs a new roof. That and other school buildings need more secure entrances, new ventilation, cooling and heating equipment, new, more heat-efficient windows and accessibility upgrades, school officials have argued.

The second Lake Ridge referendum would have raised property taxes another $1.0028 per $100 assessed valuation for teachers and education programs for the next eight years.

School officials said earlier the instruction referendum money was needed to replace $3 million a year the school would lose under a state-mandated cap on the maximum property taxes that can be charged. The tax cap can only be removed by a voter referendum.

School officials said some of the referendum money would have supported the district's busing system, which transports 90 percent of all students to school in an area that has few if any sidewalks and street lights.

The Highland parks referendum would have raised $15 million to expand and improve the town's Lincoln Center. The referendum asked voters to increase the town's tax rate by 12.43 cents per $100 assessed valuation.

The plan was for a 49,874-square-foot indoor sports arena at the southeast end of the center. It would have been an indoor turf facility for soccer, baseball, softball and football.

Construction could start around September 2019 and take about 14 months, which would lead to a grand opening around October 2020.

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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.