A story in today's Star by Andy Gammill discusses the IPS bond issue and explains that it's part of a $1.5 billion districtwide spending plan. The school district has spent $450 million on building improvements in recent years. This adds another $278 million in spending for upgrades, including new heating and air-conditioning systems for many of the schools and wireless Internet for classroooms. Gamill says proponents of the plan cite the following reasons for passing the bond issue:
- improving the learning environment;
- ensuring students are in safe buildings;
- bringing schools up to par with facilities in nearby districts;
- and making the case to companies and employees considering a move here that Indianapolis invests in education.
The proponents are relying on State Rep. David Orentlicher, who was defeated in this year's Democratic congressional primary in the 7th District, to make their case. "There's a lot of deferred maintenance here," said state Rep. David Orentlicher, D-Indianapolis, chair of a group supporting the bond proposal. "It's hard to believe that we don't have air conditioning in the schools. Where you happen to live as a kid shouldn't determine your opportunities, and right now it does in a major way."
I don't doubt that some of the spending proposed by the school district is warranted, but property taxpayers simply can't afford a big tax increase at this point. I think IPS should be looking to private sources to raise the capital it needs for some of these projects. I'm sure the district can make the case for some funding from the Lilly Foundation.
When you vote on the bond issue and the proposal to eliminate township assessors, you must remember to turn over your ballot to cast a vote on these issues. Because it is on the back side of the ballot, it is easy to overlook these critical ballot issues. We need to adopt the proposal to eliminate township assessors to help reduce the cost of government and improve our property tax assessment process. And we need to reject the IPS bond issue to avoid a massive tax increase at a time when many homeowners and businesses are already struggling as it is.