The Shelby County Board heard from three area school superintendents regarding the proposed sales tax referendum that will be on the March 18 ballot.
The sales tax referendum is making its third appearance on the ballot. The referendum failed in 2010, but nearly passed in 2011.
“Inside Shelbyville it passed, but in the county it didn’t,” said Shelbyville superintendent Denise Bence.
The proposed 1 percent sales tax in businesses throughout the county would be added revenue - as much as $1 million per year - to 13 school districts that include Shelby County students. The amount would be determined by the percentage of Shelby County students in the district. The sales tax would also relieve the burden on property owners
The revenue would be used only for school facilities, maintenance, projects and renovations. It cannot be used for salaries or educational expenses.
“Several other counties around us are collecting from the additional sales tax and 16 more counties have it on the ballot,” Bence said.
Bence, Okaw Valley District superintendent Kent Stauder, and Cowden-Herrick District superintendent Darrell Gordon each told the board how the sales tax would benefit their districts.
Shelbyville is looking to replace the 65-year-old heating system in the high school. Estimated cost is $3 million.
“We had three boilers but now only one is working and we’re using parts from the other two to keep one working,” Bence said. “No part of it can be salvaged. The boiler is either on or off. It has served us well, but it desperately need replaced. You can drive by (the building) in the winter and see windows open on the second floor.”
Stauder said that two buildings both built in 1910, are constantly undergoing maintenance work.
“We’re looking at windows , tuck pointing, new heating system, and generally updating the buildings,” he said.
Gordon said that the Herrick school building is in need of new windows and roof.
“The state has put us in a terrible position. We need help,” Gordon said. “We run in deficit each year for building maintenance. We’re doing what we can budget-wise, but we need help.”
Bence noted that the wording of the proposition is a little confusing as she read it to the board members and audience. To support the referendum, voters should choose “yes”.
County Clerk Jessica Fox said the referendum is on both party ballots and also on a non-partisan ballot for those who do not wish to use a partisan ballot.
More on the county board meeting will be reported in Friday’s Daily Union.