Auditor: W'bridge did nothing wrong
By Lynn R. Parks
The state auditor has found no validity in complaints filed against the Woodbridge School District.
According to state auditor Tom Wagner, a review of the district's recent referendum found no major problems, "certainly nothing that warrants overturning the referendum."
The auditor's study was undertaken in response to a May 21 letter signed by 14 residents of the district alleging five transgressions by the district and asking that the May 8 referendum "be declared null and void." In the referendum, voters approved by a vote of 1,077 to 1,016 a tax hike to pay for construction of a middle school. They also turned down a current expense taxes for operation expenses throughout the district.
Wagner said that a formal decision is expected to be sent to the district shortly. The district has 10 days to respond to the finding; upon receiving the response, the auditor's office will compile a final report for release to the public.
Daniel Kramer, Greenwood, who signed the complaint against the district, said that the group is waiting for a copy of the auditor's report before deciding what to do next.
"If they didn't put in [the report] some of the things that I know occurred, we will have a question," he said. "We are waiting to see the decision before we make a decision about whether we ask for an injunction against the school."
Kramer added that the group may also take the district to court to have the referendum overturned.
"Anytime you can go into court," he said. "There is nothing to prevent us from doing that."
Superintendent Kevin Carson said that the district received word of the auditor's decision last Monday. At its meeting that night, the school board was able to set the district's new tax rate, which it had delayed doing because of the complaint. The district is required by law to set its tax rate by the second Thursday in July.
"This has been hanging over our heads," Carson said. "We had already received a certification of election. We were 99.9 percent sure that everything was fine. But there was that one-tenth of one percent chance that the verdict would be overturned and then there would have been something wrong with the tax rate."
Carson said that responding to the complaints "created an awful lot of work" for the school office. The district was required to provide the auditor's office with documentation regarding how it ran the referendum.
Likewise, Wagner said that investigating the complaint was "not the best use of my staff's time." He estimated the cost of the investigation at between $3,000 and $4,000.
The complaint including allegations that the legal announcement of the referendum was inaccurate, that the district handed out incorrect information and that notices were not placed as required by law.
It also alleged that signs placed at polling places in opposition to the referendum were obscured by signs encouraging a yes vote.