UPDATE: Property tax opt-out for Avon School District fails

The property tax opt-out for the Avon School District failed Tuesday in a vote of 187 to 153.

A total of 340 people showed up to the polls to vote in the special election.

There are a total of 811 registered voters in the town of Avon, so voter turnout was just 41%.
Voters in Avon are going to the polls to make a $300,000 a year decision that, if approved, would end up raising property taxes on homes, businesses and farm land.

The vote marks the first time the Avon district has ever asked residents to opt out of the state property tax freeze to provide the district with more money.

But it's money the district says it needs. that years of being frugal and cutting corners has run its course.

For seven out of the last eight years, the Avon School District has ended up spending more money than it had. Part of it is the result of a temporary bump in the student population. Part of it is making sure teacher's salaries are in line with the state formula to keep them competitive. But too many years of spending too much and having too little in reserves has run its course.

"Financially we look at this and say 'We've got to do something'." Tom Culver is the superintendent of the Avon School District and says if this passes, the Avon district thrives.

If it fails the district may survive but it will mean budget cuts that will likely mean firing teachers and curtailing programs. "If you make more cuts sometimes its the kids who suffer because of that."

Should voters approve the opt out, taxes would increase at the following rates:

1. It would cost homeowners an extra $344.55 per year on a $150,000 home. (Tax levy for opt out of $2.297 per 1,000.)
2. It would cost ag owners an extra $154.05 per year on a $150,000 on a piece of ag land. (Tax levy for opt out of $1.027 per 1,000.)
3. It would cost business owners an extra $712.95 per year on a $150,000 business. (Tax levy for opt of $4.753 per 1,000.)

"My philosophy is if you lose your school your town pretty much kind of dies down gradually." Avon Mayor Keith Gill says a healthy school means a healthy town.

Too often we've seen examples of consolidations and closures and the effect they've had on smaller communities. Gill said a lot is riding on the line with this vote. "I'm sure they'll come up with something to keep the school open, one way or another."

While the district is requesting a $300,000 a year opt-out, Superintendent Culver says their annual needs may end up being half that. But he also says all is needed to cover costs and, hopefully, rebuild budget reserves.

This article has been updated to correct inaccurate information about the tax increase on farm land. KSFY regrets the error.