November 6, 2018

Indianapolis Public Schools $272M Tax Referenda Passes

Yard sign in support of the two tax referenda for Indianapolis Public Schools. - Eric Weddle/WFYI News

Yard sign in support of the two tax referenda for Indianapolis Public Schools.

Eric Weddle/WFYI News
Updated Nov. 7, 2018, 12:46 p.m.

Marion County voters overwhelmingly approved two property-tax increases worth a total of $272 million for Indianapolis Public Schools to increase teacher pay and fund a wide array of safety initiatives.

One referendum worth $220 million will allow for annual pay increases in the next several years for teachers whose employment contract is based on the district’s collective bargaining agreement. A capital referendum, worth $52 million, will allow safety and security upgrades at buildings and provided major infrastructure improvements.

The voters’ approval ends an 11-month-long saga for district leaders that began when they initially approved a nearly $1 billion referenda. The outcry from homeowners and concern from community and business leaders caused the district to dial back their ask.

The capital referendum was decreased by $148 million, from the original request to the now approved $52 million.

The district and the Indy Chamber eventually reached agreement on a $220 million general fund referendum. The two groups clashed over ways to cut spending and how much of a tax increases local business could support.

Tuesday night the district released a statement claiming passage of the referenda with each taking 71 percent or more of the vote. Final vote counts won't be certified until later this month. 

During a press conference Wednesday, IPS Superintendent Lewis Ferebee thanked local supporters and signaled a fast-pace to start the initiatives funded by the referenda. 

"We will now move to the second part of the process, which is salary, hours, wages. We will start those conversations this week," Ferebee said "We will also start the work of planning our facility upgrades as soon as possible."

The referenda received support from local organizations, including the Urban League, Indy Chamber and 100 Black Men of Indianapolis.

Stand for Children Indiana, the local chapter of a national organization, donated $100,000 to Vote Yes for IPS, a political action committee that promoted the referenda.

The monthly tax increase for the average property value in the IPS district will be $3.19, according to IPS.

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