Mar. 3—Smyrna School District residents will have the chance to vote
"There were too many requests [from districts throughout the state] and not enough money," said Williams. "Last year, we got a small slice approved for roof repairs at
From 2015 to 2020, enrollment in the district has increased by 650 students, from 5,233 to 5,883.
One part of the referendum will be for a new school and additions and renovations at two schools.
District taxes will provide 23% and state funds will cover 77%, if the referendum is approved by district voters, said finance director
The building projects include four parts:
1. Purchase of a 15-acre property across from
2. New 600-student elementary school. Cost:
The other question on the referendum ballot will be for an increase in the current expense part of the property tax which pays for operating expenses such as employee salaries, educational materials, utility costs and building maintenance.
The last property tax increase for current operating expenses was in 2014.
Gallagher said, "We're very conservative, prudent financial managers, and we take that fiduciary duty very seriously."
He said the district has the fourth lowest total tax rate among 16 regular districts, not including the vo-tech districts.
"The increase in property taxes from growth is not keeping pace with increases in costs," Gallagher said. "Once we open up new and expanded facilities, the costs go up for everything, for maintenance, trash, utilities and staffing."
If the current operating expense part of the referendum is approved, property taxes will increase
That part of the referendum would increase the district's operating budget by
If the school construction part of the referendum is approved, the debt service part of school property taxes will actually decrease in the first two years. Gallagher said that's because building projects from previous years are being paid off, and the major parts of the new construction project won't have gone to the bond sales yet.
The most that the debt service taxes are projected to increase in one year is
That's assuming bond sales at 3.5% interest, which is conservative, Gallagher said, because current rates are lower than that, between 2% and 2.5%.
Of course, if the referendum doesn't pass, the overall debt service taxes will be even lower.
Williams said a common question about a referendum is why should residents who don't have children in school have to support a property tax increase.
He said his reply is, "When we were children, the older generation subsidized and supported our education through property taxes and referenda. Now as new children come into our district, the opportunity is there for us to support them. They're the ones who be the next generation of leaders. It's our turn to support the children now, just as those folks supported us when we were in school."
The district held a public information meeting about the referendum online on Zoom
WHO: All eligible voters age 18 and up who live in the school district. Proof of identification will be required.
(c)2021 Middletown Transcript, Del.
Visit Middletown Transcript, Del. at www.middletowntranscript.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.