Property owners in the Fort Wayne Community School District have spoken and big time, almost 44 thousand weighed in on the district's half billion dollar building project.
More than 3 out of 4 who signed petitions over the past month are opposed. The unofficial total count? More than 33 thousand signatures on blue petitions compared to just more than 10 thousand on yellow.
"The other side simply had to ask the question did you want your property taxes to go up and we got caught up in a vortex of other issues," says John Peirce, head of Write Yellow Right Now, the group in favor of the project.
The yellow side says issues like Harrison Square, property tax reassessment and higher gas prices were the main reason the majority signed blue.
" You can't look at that in a vacuum, the school system has to take that into account when they decide they need five hundred million dollars, its not a separate issue to the taxpayers, it all gets piled on top of each other, they're paying for all of that," says Evert Mol, leader of Code Blue Schools, the group opposed to the project.
Now the count is not yet official, the auditor must still verify all of the signatures, but says with this big of a margin, the end result is almost obvious.
"Usually there's about ten percent of signatures we can't verify so I think taxpayers spoke pretty loud and clear on this one," says Allen County Auditor, Lisa Blosser.
If the final results mirror the preliminary, the project will be dead for one year and when school officials revisit it, they must introduce a significantly different idea.
"I think they can fix what's been broken for a reasonable amount of money and I think that after that what they need to do is reinstitute a regular schedule of upgrades, ask us for 25 million dollars in a smaller tax increase and do that on a pay as you go bases," says Mol.
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