Danville residents consider property tax increase for schools

Danville schools referenda

DANVILLE, Ind. (WISH) — Neighbors have mixed feelings on referenda that would raise property taxes to add to school funding in Danville.

Danville Community Schools said it needs $53 million for upgrades, teacher pay and building improvements, among other things. The school district is asking residents for the money to be able to do it.

Danville’s North Elementary School is almost 60 years old.

Tracey Shafer, superintendent of Danville Community School Corporation explained Monday, “Renovations to improve safety, to improve our classroom environment for our students and to just generally take care of aging buildings that have met their end-of-lifespan.”

Two referenda will be on the ballot in November: The other would help pay for transportation, improve student security, keep up academic programs and improve teacher pay.

“One of the things we’re running into is being competitive with our teacher pay. Many districts around up offer more funding, higher pay for their teachers,” said Matt Steward, the vice president of the Danville Community School Board. “We lose a lot of teachers over the years to higher paying districts.”

To do all these things, local property taxes would have to increase.

“I think this is grossly unfair,” said David Potter, who leads the Danville Community for Responsible Spending.

“We understand that no one loves taxes,” Steward said.

If your home is valued at $150,000 — which the district said is average for Danville — your property taxes would increase $200 per year, or $16.67 per month.

“I think our bottom dollar might be $20-$30 a month,” said Shannon Beavers, a grandmother who lives in Danville. “To me, to get the improvements for my granddaughter, who’s going to be going to school here in Danville for the next 12 years, I think it would be great.”

“We all want our kids to go to school at an adequately equipped and safe school environment. But, when you dig into the details of what they propose to do with these referendum dollars, we think it goes far beyond what is necessary to provide that adequate and safe environment of our kids,” Potter said.

Potter said his family would wind up paying an extra $220 per month in property taxes, and he thinks the referenda are a bad idea.

“If the tax increase was directly proportionate to the assessed valuation, it would eliminate a lot of the objection to this, I think,” Potter explained. “But, for a house that’s valued at four times as much to pay 12 times as much of an increase? Hard for me to say that’s fair.”

Danville Community Schools has a tax calculator to help break down the potential numbers for a specific home.

If you have questions about the tax calculator, contact Chief Financial Officer Matthew Parkinson by email at mparkinson@danville.k12.in.us.

Residents with questions about the proposals can contact Superintendent Tracey Shafer by email at tshafer@danville.k12.in.us or by phone at 317-745-2212.

Here are answers to frequently asked questions about the referenda.

Early voting begins Tuesday, and Election Day is Nov. 5.