VIDEO: Colonial referendum community meeting
Some Colonial School District residents were voicing disapproval of an upcoming referendum.
The district is seeking a tax increase of 47 cents per $100 in assessed value.
District Business Director Karen Thorpe says this is the first operating referendum since 1993.
"At that time we went from 46.8 cents up to, I think it was 79 cents," she says.
She says the increase will add about $265 to the average annual tax bill.
But Colonial parent Elisha Gresham says it is calling for too much at one time.
She says her bill will rise about $200 a year.
Gresham adds that the district should have been more proactive in getting word out to the community.
"I don't think that they handled it to where a lot of people would have been more alert and aware of it. It was kind of like, "What? What happened?" says Gresham.
Thorpe says should the initiative fail the ensuing cuts will change the face of Colonial's schools.
"The fallback position will be cutting some programs, cutting extracurricular activities and also laying off staff." Thorpe says.
District resident Pam Lane says that approach feels like the hard sell.
"I think they're trying to scare people into voting for the referendum when we need to look at the big picture here. It's a rough economy, people's paychecks have been cut because of the social security taxes being brought back up to the increase. So, I think they need to look at the whole picture." says Lane.
Lane says the district is asking too much of residents all at once.
She says an increase in the range of 30 cents would be more palatable.
If it passes the district expects to realize an additional $12 million to upgrade technology, support its curriculum and expand the pre-K program.
Voters weigh in on the referendum February 28.
Copyright © May 24, 2013, WDEL/Delmarva Broadcasting Company. All Rights Reserved.
Advanced permission from Delmarva Broadcasting Company required for publication or rebroadcast.