What is a referendum?A referendum is a direct vote in which an entire electorate is asked to either accept or reject a particular proposal. In this case, this means every registered voter who was a resident of State College Area School District had an opportunity to vote yes or no to a single question on the ballot regarding the funding for the high school project. The ballot can include only a question about the debt required to fund a project. Non-binding advisory questions are illegal in Pennsylvania.
The wording of this question is tied directly to the funding for the project. The actual wording was approved by the School Board Feb. 10, 2014.)Shall debt in the sum of eighty-five million dollars for the purpose of financing new construction and renovations for the State College Area High School be authorized to be incurred as debt approved by the electors?The amount listed includes only the principal, and not interest or financing costs.Why did we need a referendum?
A ceiling on local school boards' ability to raise property taxes was instituted in the Pennsylvania Special Session Act 1 of 2006 (Act 1). The annual Act 1 index determines the maximum percentage that school boards may raise taxes without receiving voter approval by referendum. Given the size of the proposed high school project, the district will be unable to fund the project directly from the operating budget and will use an electoral debt exception to raise taxes beyond the index to fund the necessary additional bonds. In a 2010 resolution, the Board of Directors committed to "holding a public referendum to issue electoral debt for upgrades to the State College Area High School at an appropriate time."
Last Modified on July 29, 2014