Caesar Rodney district residents to vote on tax hike proposal

WYOMING — Residents in the Caesar Rodney School District will vote in a referendum today on whether to approve the district’s request to increase property taxes to pay for capital improvements and operating expenses.

If approved, taxes for residents in the district will increase over five years, reaching an additional 57 cents per every $100 of assessed property value by the end of the fifth year.

The tax hike would raise $27.8 million for the district and, once paired with state funding, ultimately would give the district $86.9 million over the next five years.

The current fiscal year school tax rate for CR residents is $1.235 per $100 of property tax. For a home assessed at $48,000, the taxpayer’s increase would amount to $273 per year.

Of Delaware’s 16 school districts, Caesar Rodney is last in the per pupil tax rate at $604 per student (the highest rate is Cape Henlopen at $3,734). CR has the seventh largest enrollment with 7,678 students.

There are two components to the referendum — an increase of 41 cents for operating needs and 16 cents for debt service related to new capital projects.

The ballot does not show the breakdown for the debt service increases based on approval of the issuance of bonds in the amount of $27.8 million, but does list the five-year increments for current expenses.

The first year of the increase would be in the next fiscal year, beginning July 1, 2016.

In an interview earlier this month, district superintendent Dr. Kevin Fitzgerald said, “We believe there is a sincere need and we hope our community recognizes that and supports us.”

Polls will be open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. at:

• Allen Frear Elementary School, 238 Sorghum Mill Road, Dover

• Fred Fifer III Middle School, 109 E. Camden-Wyoming Ave., Camden

• J. Ralph McIlvaine Early Childhood Center, 11 E. Walnut St., Magnolia

• W.B. Simpson Elementary School, 5 Old North Road, Wyoming

• Major George Welch Elementary School, 3100 Hawthorne Drive, Dover.

The last CR referendum that passed was in 2002 and the district has grown by more than 1,300 students and 170 teachers in the same time frame. Three failed referendums have been held since — in December 2005, March 2006 and May 2007.

Eligible voters must be U.S. citizens, 18 years of age and a resident of the Caesar Rodney School District. Proof of identity and residence are required.

Results will be announced at the district office at 7 Front St. and posted at www.delawarestatenews.net.

Reach the Delaware State News newsroom at newsroom@newszap.com

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