UPDATE: Mishawaka voters say NO to school referendum - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

UPDATE: Mishawaka Voters say NO to school referendum

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(Updated 11/5/3013) -- School City of Mishawaka will have to find the money they were looking for somewhere else.  The referendum on Tuesday's ballot did not get the approval of voters.

Over 2800 people did not want their property taxes increased.  This referendum of course was something that the district had hoped would pass. 

The school planned to use the money for everything from technology improvements to enhanced security. 

The opposition said the problem was that the district was looking for too much money all at once.

Mike Wojtysiak, who has been at the forefront of the campaign against the tax increase, thought the school would have been better off asking for less from tax payers.

Wojtysiak said he wasn't surprised that the referendum was rejected. He added he's not sure what the school will do now that they didn't get any money though.

"I'm pleased that the voters saw it our way," said Wojtysiak. "There's a lot of serious issues at School City. This just puts off a large tax bill that we couldn't afford and can't afford."

The superintendent chose not to comment on the vote, but we were told he plans to talk about this Wednesday morning. One school official did tell say that the board felt "deflated" and "numb" after they heard the results.

Monday when we talked to the school board secretary he told us the district would be in a real bind if the referendum did not pass.

"It's like falling out of a five story building," said Board Secretary Larry Stillson. "You know nothing good is going to happen. You don't know for sure but you know it can't be good. We're in that situation relative to our capital funds project."

Wojtysiak is an accountant, so I asked him what he would do if he was on the school board, given this budget issue. He said there are a lot of problems that need to be taken care of including everything from the general fund to overcrowded classrooms. 

Because the referendum did not pass the property tax rate in for homes in the School City of Mishawaka district will remain the same. For example if a home is worth $100,000, that homeowner would still pay approximately $1000 in property taxes each year.

That rate is still less than what people in the Penn-Harris-Madison district pay. Homeowners there pay $1134 per $100,000 worth of property.


(11/4/2013) -- People may not be voting on a new President, but filling out a ballot is still pretty important for a few Michiana cities like Mishawaka.

Residents in the School City of Mishawaka district are voting Tuesday on whether to approve a tax increase. The referendum is to raise taxes in order to pay for 28 million dollars in school improvements. Supporters say it's necessary for the education of students, but opponents say, it's just too much all at once.

"The money that receive will touch every school, every parent, every student," said Larry Stillson, School Board Secretary.

The referendum has been a hot topic of debate at recent School City Mishawaka Board meetings.

"This is going to provide security, enhanced security for every school," said Stillson. "It's going to provide enhanced technology. We'll have wifi in every building."

With that $28 million price tag, comes higher property taxes. For example if a home in the district has a market value of $75,000, that homeowner will pay an extra $48.58 a year in taxes.

Those tax increases are enough for some Mishawaka residents to campaign against the referendum. Mike Wojtysiak started a go fund me page to encourage people to vote no.

"It's just way too much money," said Wojtysiak. "If it passes, we're going to have taxes that are twice as high as those who pay taxes who go to Penn High School within the city of Mishawaka."

Wojtysiak says he understands the need for improvements at schools, but thinks baby steps would be better. He says the increase voters are looking at sends a bad message to businesses.

"Costco is not coming to school city Mishawaka with a tax rate like this. It's way too high, and way out of line," said Wojtysiak.

However, supporters say they are worried about what might happen if the referendum gets rejected.

"It's like falling out of a 5 story building," said Stillson. "You know nothing good is going to happen. You don't know what for sure, but you know it can't be good."

Wojtysiak says the people of Mishawaka just cannot afford this increase right now. He believes people in the area are still recovering from the recession.

If the referendum is approved, work can begin in the spring.

If you want to calculate the impact the referendum would have on your taxes, you can find out by clicking here

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