And having an organized opposition group seemed to be the deciding factor in a $28 million renovation project that was defeated in Mishawaka 2,808 votes to 1,321 votes.
Mishawaka voters were asked for permission to sell up to $28 million in bonds to fund a battery of “safety and accessibility” upgrades and other renovations to several district schools.
There were two Political Action Committees made for each side, a pro-referendum group, Friends of Mishawaka Schools, a group of Mishawaka citizens dedicated to improving Mishawaka schools mainly through the passage of the referendum and the opposition organization, No to 28 Million, headed by Michael Wojtysiak.
“Our message was simple, it would have been a 35-percent tax rate increase. We would have had the largest property taxes in the state,” said Wojtysiak. “None of this money will help put teachers in the class room or help with education. SCM did not do a good job of promoting it and the lack of transparency and an inconstant message. Because of the silence from SCM, the community concern was they were sneaking something in without a representative vote from the community. We felt they had 2,000 yes votes in the bag, so we needed a big turnout to win.”
Wojtysiak said the referendum “was just too much money. We have a lot of elderly, fixed income people who cannot afford $105 per $100,000 of assessed value.”
A budget shortfall referendum failed in Michigan City.
In Muncie, a referendum that a school official said would keep the corporation’s busses running was defeated.
Ana Pichardo, director of communication for Muncie Community Schools, said Wednesday afternoon that a waiver, required by law, will be filed with the state to halt bus service for the 2014-2015 school year due to the failed measure.
Voters were asked to approve a maximum of 39 cents per $100 of assessed value on their properties to help pay to keep the busses in service. Pichardo said that next year, the cost would be 22 cents per $100 of assessed value.