Auditor asked to look at referendum
By Lynn R. Parks
A group of citizens is protesting the recent successful Woodbridge School District referendum. A letter signed by Daniel J. Kramer, Greenwood, and 13 others asks the state auditor of accounts to declare the referendum "null and void."
On May 8, voters approved by a vote of 1,077 to 1,016 one of two questions on a tax-hike referendum, giving the district the money to add on to the existing Early Childhood Education Center in Bridgeville to create a middle school. Question two on the referendum would have hiked current expense taxes for operation expenses throughout the district. Voters turned it down by a vote of 1,016 to 976.
"I want the whole thing overturned," said Kramer, who opposed both parts of the referendum. "[The school district is] not telling the truth."
According to Ron Draper, deputy state auditor, his department will begin looking into the complaint in mid- to late June. He said that no decision regarding the validity of the complaint has been made.
The letter makes five complaints against the district, including manipulation of minor cap and tuition tax figures to make the tax increase proposed by the referendum seem smaller.
"The school board has to set tuition taxes at whatever they need," Kramer said. "They don't know what they will be next year. And minor cap taxes can be raised any time without the voters' OK."
The complaint also alleges that a certificate of necessity issued by the state to permit a referendum is not accurately represented in public notices regarding the referendum that the district placed in newspapers. In addition to construction of the middle school, the certificate of necessity permits a tax increase to fund a "new agricultural building and expansion/renovations of the early childhood program" at the high school. The public notice reads only that the tax increase will provide funding "to provide additional vocational technical space."
"That doesn't mean the same thing to me," Kramer said.
According to the letter, the district did not post notices of the referendum as required by law. The auditor's office has requested a list of posting locations from the district.
The letter also complains that signs encouraging people to vote against the referendum were obstructed by signs supporting the referendum and that a brochure sent home with students contained inaccurate information.
Draper could provide no estimate as to the length of time the auditor's investigation will take.
District superintendent Kevin Carson declined to comment pending the auditor's investigation, other than to say that he found the letter "amazing" and that the district followed all state requirements regarding referendums.