Referendum vote is here

Residents of the Indian River School District were reminded this week that the district’s major capital referendum will be held on Thursday, Feb. 13 (after Coastal Point press time).

The one-question referendum is a vote “for” or “against” allowing the school district to issue $58.4 million worth of bonds, which would be repaid through a temporary increase in property taxes.

Approval would fund the IRSD’s local share (40 percent) of construction of a new Sussex Central High School on district-owned property, but also ultimately alleviate enrollment capacity issues at about six IRSD schools in total. If the referendum passes, the State would contribute 60 percent ($87.7 million) of the overall $146 million project cost.

Any district resident who is a U.S. citizen and at least 18 years old is eligible to vote. School referendum voting does not require voter registration. Voters must show proof of identity and address (such as a Delaware ID card and/or utility bill).

Polls will be open Feb. 13 from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., with the voters having their choice from six locations: East Millsboro Elementary School, Georgetown Elementary School, Indian River High School, Long Neck Elementary School, Lord Baltimore Elementary School and Selbyville Middle School.

The current IRSD school tax is $3.067 per $100 of assessed property value. (Sussex County property values have not been reassessed in decades, so assessed values are much lower than actual real estate values.)

If the public passes the referendum, the property tax rate would increase by a few cents for three years and then immediately drop again. At its height, the property tax rate might reach an increase of 28 cents for $100 of property value (costing about $5.31 per month for the average taxpayer assessment of $22,751) before dropping lower than ever as IRSD repays that and older bonds. For more information, contact the IRSD Referendum Hotline at (302) 436-1079 or visit irsd.net/referendum.

Results of the vote will be published Thursday night at www.coastalpoint.com.