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DOVER, Del. (AP) - House lawmakers are taking a first look at a bill that would allow school districts in Delaware to raise taxes without the approval of local residents.

The bill to be considered in committee on Wednesday allows local school boards, starting in tax year 2018, to increase the rate or amount of a tax originally authorized in an election without going back to voters.

The increase would be limited to the higher of a rate equal to the percentage change in the Consumer Price Index, or a rate of 3 percent every two years without a further election or referendum.

Colonial School District

Voters approved a $10.9 million a year referendum that the Colonial School District says it needs to avoid cuts in staff and programs.

Superintendent Dr. Dusty Blakey told the Wilmington News Journal that this was a victory for the 10-thousand students and the staff.

This is the second time the proposal has been put up for a vote and resulted in just over 57-hundred for the funding and around 39-hundred against.

The voter turnout was also nearly twice as last time with around 96-hundred casting ballots as opposed to only around 5-thousand in February.

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The Ocean City firefighters and paramedics are set to get their arbitration referendum on the ballot in the next election.

The Salisbury Daily Times reports that the Board of Elections told the town council that the measure had received enough signatures to qualify.

With the council’s unanimous acceptance of the result Ryan Whittingon, president of Local 4269, told the paper that it will be helpful to have someone look into disputed issues.

Last March the union and the town of Ocean City hammered out an agreement that included the contentious issue of work shifts.

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Voters in the Indian River School District gave the thumbs up to a referendum that would raise $7.3 million.

It was approved an overwhelming margin of around 17-hundred votes – that is 7-thousand to 53-hundred.

The Wilmington News Journal reports that the district argued that the funds were needed given that its student pollution had grown over 22 percent over the last decade.

The district says it is projected to hit over 10-thousand students by 2026.

The district said that this would save up to 200 jobs.

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Today it’s one more time to the polls in the Indian River School District on a referendum that would raise $7.3 million in property taxes.

The district has argued that it needs the funds to handle the massive growth the district has seen in recent years.

WBOC reports that the district says the money will allow it to hire more teachers and improve security and technology.

In addition, the money would also help fund school programs.

If approved residents would pay an additional 49 cents for $100 of assessed property value.

Khanes Athiratanakran / creative commons

The Indian River School Board is going give it another try.

Yesterday the board decided to present another referendum next March that would ask for a hike of 49 cents per $100 of assessed property value.

The vote was 8-to-2.

Despite the rejection last month of a referendum board member James Fritz said he was optimistic since that one lost by only 30 votes.

Superintendent Susan Bunting noted that there was some work to do in the Long Neck area where the referendum lost by a significant margin.

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Voters in the Indian River School District are set to go to the polls today to decide a $7.3 million referendum.

If approved it would raise property taxes by more than $95 a year and would providing funding for school security, technology and hiring among other needs.

But the vote comes just as a state audit found that there had been mismanagement of school funds over seen by the former CFO Patrick Miller.

WBOC reports that the audit said the district did not have adequate safeguards to control and detect financial improprieties.

Red Clay Consolidated School District

WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) - A judge is set to being hearing testimony in a lawsuit over a disputed New Castle County school district tax referendum.

The trial beginning Monday involves a 2015 referendum approved by residents of the Red Clay Consolidated School District.

The American Civil Liberties Union sued on behalf of a district resident and her elderly parents who opposed the tax increase but say they were unable to gain access to the polls.

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Brandywine School District voters gave their overwhelming support for a referendum for another 28 cents per $100 of assessed property value.

The money will go towards the operating budget and capital projects.

The Wilmington News Journal reports that over 9-thousand voters cast their ballots for referendum while nearly 58-hundred were opposed.

Superintendent Mark Holodick told the paper that if the referendum did not pass that school district would have had to cut $8 million from its $174-million.

DOVER, Del. (AP) - State lawmakers are considering a bill mandating that all school elections in Delaware be done by mail.

The legislation to be considered by a Senate committee Wednesday also requires that school board elections and referendums be held on the second Tuesday of May.

The legislation also limits participating in school elections to registered voters.

The bill was introduced after some lawmakers received complaints last year about a successful Red Clay school district tax referendum.

Don Rush

Voters in the Brandywine School District will get yet another chance to vote on a referendum asking for tax increases.

It will essentially be the same as last time with $9 million for the school district’s operating budget and another $19.3 million for construction.

The Wilmington News Journal reports that the referendum will not include the $5 million for athletic field turf.

In the last election the referendum lost by 163 votes.

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Three Delaware school districts will be asking voters this week to approve an increase in taxes.

The districts include Christina, Brandywine and Cape Henlopen.

The Wilmington News Journal reports that the Christina School district is asking for around $16 million after seeing three previous referendums fail.

That money will go to help the district fill gaps left by $9 million in budget cuts last year and to fund some new programs.

Christina School District website

Around 40 property owners gathered at the Shue-Medill Middle School near Newark this week to get filled in on a referendum about the impact of a $16 million referendum for the Christina School District.

During the three hour meeting local officials laid out a vision that included a medical sciences program at Glasgow High School.

If the referendum does get voter approval the district will replace the 78 teachers who were laid off after the failure of the last referendum.

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The third try may be the charm.

The Christina School district is taking one more swipe at convincing voters to raise taxes after the last two efforts were rejected in referendums.

The district will be asking voters on March 23rd to approve a 30 cent increase per $100 of assessed property value.

The Wilmington News Journal reports that’s 20 percent less than what the district had sought last year.

School officials argue that the money is needed after it cut its budget by $9 million when that last referendum was rejected.

Cape Henlopen School District Website

The Cape Henlopen School District wants to build a new elementary school to replace H.O. Brittingham and Rehoboth Elementary schools in addition to renovating the Lewes School and Milton Elementary school for a total cost of $130 million.

Superintendent Bob Fulton said that it would require a referendum vote in late March.

WBOC reports that the state would cough up 60 percent of the funds but the rest would have to come from local tax payers amounting to $48 million.

Cape Henlopen School District logo

The Cape Henlopen School District wants a $154.5 million referendum to go before the voters.

The funding request comes after the state of Delaware offered $106 million for renovating and rebuilding five elementary schools.

WBOC reports that school officials say the request is based on need not want pointing out that the average elementary school in the district is 70 years old.

The referendum proposal is set to come up before the Board of Education at 6 p.m. at Beacon Middle School.

REHOBOTH BEACH, Del. (AP) - Voters in the city of Rehoboth Beach have elected in a referendum to support restrictions on housing development imposed earlier this year.

The city said that Saturday's balloting concluded with 785 votes, or 53 percent, in favor of the restrictions, compared to 697 votes, or 47 percent, opposed.

Rehoboth's board of commissioners passed an ordinance in July making it harder to build large homes and requiring more green space on front yards.

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Voters will be going to the polls in the Milford School District tomorrow.

If a referendum is approved the school district says it will help deal with a current budget deficit of $1.2 million.

School superintendent Phyllis Kohel told WBOC that this would allow the district to restore cuts in the curriculum and support student safety efforts.

She said over the last three years the school system has drawn around $1.2 million per year from the require reserve fund.

And it has slashed 30 percent across the board affecting construction, operations and athletics.

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There’s a rebellion brewing in Rehoboth Beach.

Hundreds are angered by a law that will make it harder for them to build large houses.

And they have handed in a petition to force the town commissioners to take another vote.

They must have gathered 40 percent of the electorate in order to force the vote.

That will force suspension of the ordinance until its reconsideration.

The Wilmington News Journal reports that if there is not a reversal residents vow to force a referendum.

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A lawsuit in Rehoboth Beach gives new meaning to the phrase, “Vote early and vote often.”

Resident Jackie Nichols has filed a federal lawsuit that says the ability of corporation owners to cast multiple votes in a referendum violates the Delaware and U.S. constitutions.

The multiple voting provision only applies to referenda not general municipal elections.

Wilmington News Journal reports that city staff also said that residents who own Rehoboth based businesses can also cast multiple votes.

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The possibility of voter fraud in this week’s referendum that would increase property taxes for the Red Clay School District has been raised by state Senator Karen Peterson.

And the Stanton Democrat says she is asking the Delaware Attorney General to investigate.

The Wilmington News Journal reports that Peterson says she received a report that a group of parents who had voted at one polling place saying they were going to vote at a second polling place.

The paper notes that referendums unlike general election are not given specific polling places.

There’s legislation in the Delaware General Assembly that could allow school boards to raise taxes incrementally without first going to the voters.

The House Education Committee Chair Darryl Scott plans to introduce the measure next week.

Scott told the Wilmington News Journal that he believes this would give the school boards a need tool to manage the district’s money.

The legislation would still force school boards to go to the voters for any tax increase over 3% and for capital projects such as a new school.

Don Rush

Local residents are unhappy with the state of affairs at the old Milford Middle School a month after a referendum failed to pass in the town leaving the fate of the facility uncertain.

The historic structure was built in 1929 but is now boarded up with large pieces of plywood covering the windows.

Local residents told WMDT that they fear the impact on the local property values with such an eyesore.

In order to renovate the facility local residents would have to get a tax increase which would require a referendum.


A referendum to raise property taxes to build a new school in the Cape Henlopen District was approved by a thousand vote margin out of 6-thousand cast yesterday.

In addition to building a fifth elementary school that will hold 720-students that money will also pay for additional classrooms at Beacon Middle School and Mariner Middle School.

The referendum means that the average property tax will go up by $22 in the next fiscal year and $37 in the following year.

In the Cape Henlopen School District voters will be casting their ballots for a referendum today.

The measure calls for a hike in the property tax which would cost the average property owner an extra $59 a year.

It would take effect over the next three years.

The measure would help pay for the construction of a new elementary school with enrollment having grown by nearly 1-thousand students over the last 12 years.

The new elementary school would be located in Rehoboth Beach along Route 24.

Don Rush

Milford residents turned down two school referendums yesterday with votes of over a thousand against the measures while around 800 supported them.

One called for nearly $13 million in tax increases to replace the Milford Middle School  which was shut down last year while another wanted $2.1 million to cover operational costs such staff and program.

Superintendent Phyllis Kohel told WBOC that passage of the building funds for a new school would ease overcrowding.

Don Rush

The Milford School District is seeking to explain to the public a referendum they want that would increase property taxes to fund the demolition and rebuilding Milford Middle School.

The facility was closed last year because of infrastructure problems and the students were moved to Milford Central Academy.

In the first year .property taxes would only be increased by $3.65.

But that would then shoot up to $33.20 the next year and to $35.68 in the third year.

Another $2.1 million in additional revenue would increase property taxes by $94.20 a year.

NEW CASTLE, Del. (AP) - Colonial School District voters are set to weigh in on a measure that aims to raise $9.6 million for the district.

Voters will decide Tuesday whether to raise property taxes after the district's first attempt at a tax increase failed in February. The measure is meant to fill in for declines in federal and state funding.

Colonial School District Superintendent Dorothy Linn says this time administrators have made an effort to explain the district's position.


DOVER, Del. (AP) - Parents of children killed in the December mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut are urging Delaware lawmakers to pass new gun control measures.

Parents of three children killed at Sandy Hook planned to meet with Gov. Jack Markell on Tuesday in Dover.

Sandy Hook Promise, a nonprofit organization created by Newtown, Conn., residents after the shootings, also is coordinating meetings with legislators.

NEW CASTLE, Del. (AP) - Colonial School District officials are alerting staffers who could be laid off if voters reject a proposed tax increase in June.

The administration handed out letters Wednesday to 72 staffers - including 58 teachers - who might be affected if voters don't approve a June 4 referendum. Officials say athletics and extracurricular activities would also have to be scaled back.