SOUTH BEND — When they hit the polls in May, voters in the South Bend Community School Corp. district will be asked to vote on a referendum seeking to raise $74.8 million for the school system’s facilities and operations.

South Bend officials are asking voter approval of property tax hikes that would raise $20.8 million per year over eight years for the district’s operations budget, and an additional $54 million for capital improvements, said Kareemah Fowler, the district’s chief financial officer. The referendum would appear as only one question on the ballot, but the money would be split into the two separate funds.

If voters approve the spring referendum, property taxes would increase by 39 cents for every $100 of assessed value, Fowler said. So, the owner of a home with an assessed value of $100,000 would pay an additional $390 per year. 

“We’re asking the taxpayers to continue paying what they are paying, so it’s not really much of an increase,” Fowler told The Tribune before Monday’s school board meeting, referring to property tax caps. “When the circuit break comes off, that is exempt debt. So, each taxpayer will get a credit. So, all we are asking is for them to continue to pay what you were paying and an additional 2 cents.”

Part of the referendum money will go toward the district’s operating fund and will be used for salary increases for teachers and principals, the hiring of additional counselors, college coaches and social workers to each building and technology, infrastructure and security updates in district classrooms.

Copyright © 2020, South Bend Tribune