HUNTINGTON COUNTY, Ind. (Fort Wayne’s NBC) – Balancing the needs of students with the goal of keeping taxes from going up too much will be an issue wrestled with in Huntington County in November.
Huntington North is one of the largest high schools in northeast Indiana, but school administrators argue the older building is rundown, even bordering on unsafe.
They say the heating and air conditioning system and underground pipes are falling apart, and that leaks in the roof are starting to cause damage in some classrooms.
“We’re hoping people see this as an investment in our community, an investment in our students, we think this is a real need,” said Huntington County Community Schools Superintendent Chad Daugherty.
If more people vote “yes” than “no” on a pair of ballot questions, it would essentially authorize construction of a new academic part of Huntington North High School, and fund changes to reduce class sizes and boost security and teacher pay in schools across the district.
The price tag is higher property taxes.
If you own a home in Huntington County with assessed value of about $100,000, for example, you should expect to pay about $135.00 more per year.
“Somebody is going to take a hit somewhere, they do always, but like I said, if it helps the school corporation, I’m for it,” said taxpayer Jay Davis, from the town of Andrews.
Brandy Howard also wants to see upgrades in local schools, but she worries what the higher taxes would do to the elderly on fixed incomes and younger people who’ve just bought property.
The property tax price tag would be really stiff for county residents who own the largest tracts of farmland.
Because county residents are not in the habit of voting in a city election year, it’s not clear if the turnout in those outlying areas will be down.
“We work with Shelley Septer down at the clerk’s office, and she’s put things out on her website to allow people to know they are eligible to vote on those two questions,” Daugherty said.
Residents living outside city limits will only be able to vote on the school ballot issues, not for mayor or other city offices.