MUNCIE, Ind. (WISH) - A school bus battle could put the brakes on transportation for kids in Muncie.
The district says it will have to end busing next year unless voters agree to a tax increase.
“We have no place else to cut,” said Mark Burkhart, Muncie Community School Corp’s chief financial officer and treasurer.
School officials have said, thanks to property tax caps, decreasing enrollment, and a new state law next year that sets limits on how money can be allocated, their transportation budget’s operating balance has gradually been “eliminated.”
So the district is asking for a referendum to be put on the next election ballot, on Nov. 5th, that will ask voters to increase property taxes to keep the buses running.
District officials said – for a $75,000 home – the $3 million referendum would mean an increase of between $32 and $36 per year per property.
“Parents need that extra help and it’s a part of the community’s responsibility to step up and help,” said Muncie parent Irene White.
Supporters of the referendum have been out in full force - putting signs in yards, passing out T-shirts, and campaigning for people to head to the polls.
“When you have parents that are leaving before the buses come, who’s going to be there to get them (the students)?” Asked bus driver Billie Barton. “There are just so many issues.”
But the referendum is far from a slam dunk.
The district is also considering a comprehensive cost-cutting plan that would include consolidating schools. A decision is set for Nov. 18th.
Chris Hiatt, who is against the referendum, says he believes those decisions should be made before the election.
“We consider that very bad faith,” Hiatt said. “We think they need to do their due diligence before they come back after the taxpayers for additional taxes.”
“We have been diligent in trying to stay within our revenue stream and all of our funds,” Burkhart said. “And we simply are strapped in all of our funds supported by property taxes.”
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