To the editor:

I attended a valuable information session at the Chamber of Commerce recently regarding the proposed issuance of bonds totaling $40,470,000 for fund renovations and improvements to Madison Consolidated High School, E.O. Muncie Elementary School and Anderson Elementary School.

This is an important issue for our community and it is critical that voters are armed with facts when choosing whether to support the referendum.

The facts are undeniable. Critical structural, health and safety issues exist within Madison Schools.

Problems include crumbling walls, sewage issues, air quality issues ... and the list goes on.

The cost to simply repair the schools with no additional value added is approximately $30 million.

In addition to facilities issues there are a number of safety and efficiency concerns that will be addressed with the passing of this referendum as well.

Security systems will be upgraded to ensure children, staff and faculty safety. Improved building designs will limit walking time to and from lunch and other activities to maximize instructional time and hallways will be added to improve traffic flow within the schools.

There has been a lot of discussion in the community about building a new gymnasium. It is important to understand that the cost to renovate the current gymnasium is nearly the same as the cost to build a new gymnasium and to renovate the existing gymnasium as an auditorium.

An important consideration when voting in support of the referendum are taxes. How much will property taxes really increase as a result of voting yes?

Property taxes will return to the same rate they were two years ago, or an increase of 14 cents from the current tax rate of 85 cents per $100.

Because of the way state laws mandate the referendum has to be worded on the ballot it can confuse voters. The ballot will read "maximum tax rate increase of the project to be $0.4028 per $100 of assessed valuation."

This might make some people mistakenly think their taxes are going up by approximately 40 cents per $100 of assessed value. This is not the case. The net effect on taxes is going to be 14 cents per $100 assessed value. For the average family this equates to approximately $56 per year.

What happens if the referendum does not pass? The schools continue to deteriorate and the need doesn't go away. The board will be forced to ask for a bond again every year because the fact remains that there isn't enough money in capital projects to fix these issues. As time passes, the price tag continues to climb.

As time passes the impact on taxes increases as well. It isn't a question of whether we fund the project, it is a question of when we fund it. The need isn't going away, and if we turn a blind eye the negative impact on our children and taxpayers will only worsen.

Brandon G. Taylor