Think before referendum vote

EditorThe citizens of Ohio County will vote on May 5, 2015 in a referendum to determine whether the school tax rate for Ohio County is increased by 25 cents per one hundred dollars from 56 cents per one hundred dollars of assessed valuation to 81 cents per one hundred dollars of assessed valuation. This has become necessary as the State Legislature recently reduced state aid to public schools and set forth required actions if the local school district could not support itself.Our nearest school districts are the Switzerland County School District and the South Dearborn School District. The school tax rate in Switzerland County is 72 cents per one hundred dollars of assessed valuation. The school tax rate for the South Dearborn School District is in excess of $1.20 per one hundred dollars of assessed valuation. The present Ohio County tax rate is the lowest in Southeastern Indiana. If the voters approve the tax increase, the Ohio County school tax rate will be the second lowest in Southeastern Indiana.Should the voters approve the tax increase, the Ohio County School Board will be able to make improvements in the school system and not cuts. If the referendum is not approved, it may be necessary to cut whole departments that are now thought to be indispensable.Should voters reject the tax increase, some consequences are highly probable due to the recently enacted state legislation. In case of rejection of the tax increase, the Ohio County School Corporation will most probably have to begin negotiations with the South Dearborn School Corporation to merge the Ohio County School Corporation with the South Dearborn School Corporation.The reason for the merger with South Dearborn is that the bulk of the school children in Ohio County reside more closely to the South Dearborn schools than the Switzerland County Schools.If the tax increase is defeated, Ohio County will lose control over its schools. In a merged Ohio County.-South Dearborn school system, It will be unlikely that Ohio County would have more than one school board member.If forced to merge the Ohio County School Corporation with the South Dearborn School Corporation, the school tax rate would increase more closely to the South Dearborn rate of $1.20 per one hundred dollars of assessed valuation. This is far in excess of the rate of 81 cents for each one hundred dollars of assessed valuation which would result from the referendum. Those who vote against the proposed tax increase would unwittingly vote for a large tax Increase.Finally, I have two step grandsons who attend the Ohio County schools and like their school. I hope that they can continue to do so.Respectfully SubmittedJohn D. Mitchell