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Referendum FAQs

1. How will the referenda for these operating and capital investments make a difference in the quality of our schools?

Funds for the operating referendum will be used to provide funding to continue current and implement new educational programs; to address additional staffing needs including special education staffing; for anticipated increases in employee compensation and other operational costs; for payment of debt service on obligations and to re-establish reasonable fund balances.

Funds for the capital referendum will be used for renewal/restoration, technology upgrades safety and energy efficiency projects.  These referendum funds include restoration, repair, and updating systems at all the school buildings including, but not limited to, Eads Elementary School, Elliott Elementary School, Frank Hammond Elementary School, Wilbur Wright Middle School, and Munster High School. 

2. When will the referenda be held?

The referenda will be decided via a public vote in a Special Election on May 2nd, 2017.  Voters can vote by absentee ballot, early at special polling places and on Election Day at their respective voting location.  Please note that there will be a referendum for operating costs and another referendum for capital projects on the ballot.

3. How much will this cost? How much will it impact my tax bill?

The cost of the operating referendum will be $6, 911,178 for seven (7) years at an estimated tax rate of $0.4196 per $100 of net assessed value for a total not to exceed $48,378,246.  The annual cost of the capital referendum will be no greater than $7,472,000 if financed over 10 years, and not expected to be greater than $4,315,000 if financed over 20 years.  The aggregate repayment of the 10-year financing scenario is anticipated to not exceed $61,000,000, and the aggregate repayment of the 20-year financing scenario will not exceed $77,894,188.  Based on these two options and the current net assessed value, the debt service fund tax rate necessary to repay the annual repayment under the 10-year financing scenario is anticipated to be $0.4319 per $100 of next assessed value, and the debt service fund tax rate necessary to repay the annual payment under the 20-year financing scenario is anticipated to be $0.2489 per $100 of net assessed value.  Due to the refunding of bonds and the repayment structure of the School Town of Munster debt, taxpayers can anticipate a total net rate impact of approximately $0.0862 per $100 of net assessed value over the 2017 rates for the two referenda combined and under either repayment structure for the proposed capital project financings. 

4. How can the net tax rate impact really be only approximately 9¢/$100 of net assessed value (NAV) over 2017 rates when you are clearly asking for a lot more than that?

Capital Referendum Levy (refer to blue box above): The district plans to bond over 20 years, making the estimated rate approximately 25¢/$100 NAV.  However, in 2018-2020, the district will only be paying capitalized interest, which is approximately 2¢/$100 of NAV to the tax payer.

Operating Referendum Tax Levy (refer to red box above): the district will REPLACE the current 19.9¢ with approximately 42¢/$100 of NAV.

When you open your tax bill in April of 2017, your Total Estimated Tax Rate (refer to green box above) for the school district is estimated to be $1.31/$100 NAV.  Please focus your attention on the Exempt Debt Service line above.  Note that in 2018, the rate will DECREASE significantly due to refunding (refinancing) of bonds.  In 2021, debt will retire in both Debt Service and Exempt Debt Service and there will be an even more significant decrease in the tax rate.

What does this mean to the tax payer in terms of net impact on your tax bill in 2018 if both referenda pass? Refer again to the Total Estimated Tax Rate.  In 2018, the tax rate will increase from approximately $1.31 on the 2017 tax bill to $1.40 on the 2018 tax bill.  This is a net increase of approximately 9 cents/$100 AV.

*It is important to note that ballot question, pursuant to state statute, must advertise the maximum rate.  This would be the 10 year bond issue at a rate of approximately 43¢/$100 NAV.  The district WILL NOT be pursuing a 10 year issue, but rather the 20 year issue of approximately 25¢/$100 NAV.

For additional information on each of the tax rates and annual tax payments for each referendum, we have included the presentations from H.J. Umbaugh & Associates, Certified Public Accountants, LLP that were presented to the School Board in December and January.  In addition, for information on the proposed investment for your individual property, the Transparency Calculator is posted on our website. This will provide you with an estimate of the net impact that these referendums will have on the school district rate on your 2021 tax bill as compared to the school district rate on your 2017 tax bill.  Umbaugh is using 2021 for projections because as you see from the estimated tax rate chart, 2021 is the initial year of full repayment for the 20 year bonds.  Please click the following link to access the Transparency Calculator. For now, estimates appear below:

5. How were the amounts needed determined?

This has been a very deliberative process that began in 2014 when Dr. Jeff Hendrix became the new School Superintendent.  Dr. Hendrix worked with administrators, teachers, staff, School Board members and community residents to review all programs and staffing with the purpose of justifying every expenditure.  Cost savings were implemented, that resulted in the saving of millions of dollars.  After analyzing all funds and trimming costs to stabilize the finances of our school community, the Board and Administration came to the decision that all of these cost-cutting measures were not enough to support our educational programs, compensate staff, maintain and upgrade the facilities.  The Board decided to seek voter approval via a referendum to support these major needs in our school corporation. 

Once that decision was made, we enlisted the help of qualified professional service providers with extensive skills in public finance, design, and engineering to determine the most rational and most effective options to meet the needs of our school community.  We are working with H.J. Umbaugh and Associates Certified Public Accountants, a firm with more than 65 years of experience and expertise in all areas of public finance.  The firm is one of the largest and most active independent municipal advisors to governmental units in the Midwest.   We have also contracted with Performance Services, a firm that has experience working with hundreds of clients in K-12, Higher Ed, Government and Healthcare, to help us evaluate, design, engineer and plan proposed capital needs.   Both of these firms’ recommendations are the basis of the proposed referenda.


6. Are we sure that these referenda will provide the financial support needed for the future of our schools?

The Board and Administration believe the operating funds provided by the operating referendum will enable us to provide quality educational programs.  We continuously evaluate all educational programs based on best practices in curriculum, instruction and assessment.  Since the Fall of 2014, we have implemented policies that require the justification of each position in the school district.  This helps ensure that those positions meet the needs and program structures necessary to provide for best practices as we work to support our students.  The capital improvement projects are designed to reflect our educational needs and will include designs that are sustainable for longevity and environmentally sustainable.  The School Town believes that both the operating and capital improvement referendua will help us meet the needs of this and future generations. 

7. Are there any independent studies that demonstrate that quality schools support higher property values?

Yes, several national studies have shown that quality schools do result in higher property values.  In fact, a survey of Munster residents taken in 2015 showed that one of the main reasons for moving to and/or living in our community was the quality of our schools.  That leads directly to higher property values.

8. Have any other local schools used referendums for operating support or used a referendum to support capital improvements to their facilities?

Yes.  In just our area, Valparaiso, Lake Central, Lake Station, River Forest, Crown Point, Duneland, New Prairie, Hanover, and Hebron school corporations all received additional funding via referendum votes.  In addition, Highland schools will benefit by additional expenditures for capital improvements.

9. What happens if the referendum fails on May 2nd?

If the referenda fail in May, we will continue to provide educational opportunities for our students and their families.  However, we will not be able to pay our teachers a salary that is competitive, which could result in losing several quality teachers.  Our programs will be curtailed and we will be limited in our ability to expand offerings to this and future generations of students.  As it relates to facilities, we will continue a “band-aid” approach to our buildings and will delay needed repairs to make our buildings quality learning environments.  Finally, if Munster voters reject the proposals, the School Town believes it will have a major impact on our quality of life.  The Board and Administration believe that many potential home purchasers will decide on other communities for their new residences because our community rejected the opportunity to improve our schools.  That will have a devastating impact on the value of homes in our community.