Waiting game now on referendum questions

County officials and Huntington County Community School Corporation administrators should know in about a week whether the two questions the school district wants to add to the November election ballot will be allowed to appear.

School Superintendent Chad Daugherty says 525 registered and certified voters signed a petition to put the “Operating Question” on the ballot, that would increase property taxes to give teachers a raise, attract new teachers to HCCSC with competitive salaries and pay for school safety improvements. The nature of the “Project Question,” in which voters would approve an increase in property taxes to fund a proposed $68,480,000 building project at Huntington North High School, did not require a petition to be placed on the Nov. 5 ballot.

The school corporation filed the referendum resolution request with the Huntington County Clerk on July 9. After a meeting with Huntington County Clerk Shelley Septer and the county’s election board to go over the two referendum questions, they were sent to the Indiana Department of Local Government Finance (DLGF), which will either accept the questions for the upcoming election or reject them, Septer says.

“There are just some steps that we have to go through getting the wording – we’re working on that now,” she explains. “We’re just taking the steps that we have to, to get the correct wording on the ballot.”

If the DLFG accepts one or both of the questions to be placed on the county ballot, it means this will now become a countywide election, where before it was a municipal election with certain districts – those without a town or city – not eligible to vote. Septer says that has now changed. She wants voters to understand that they may go to their polls and find only the referendum questions listed on their ballot.

“If I go to a voting place in Roanoke, and I live out in the country, the only thing that’s going to come up on that ballot is the public question,” she says. “If they live, say, in the town of Roanoke, the public question will come up plus the people running for the race in town.

“We’ve already had people stop in the office and say, ‘Hey, since this is going to be a countywide election because we’re voting on this question, does that mean I get to vote for mayor?’ That does not mean that.”

Voters can still go to any vote center in Huntington County, and poll workers can bring up their particular ballot on the electronic voting machines, she adds.

Voter Registration and Election Deputy Yvette Runkle says DLGF has until July 22 to give an answer back to HCCSC and the election board on whether it approves or denies the ballot language of the questions to be posed to voters. Runkle is optimistic it will go smoothly.

“We do have July 26, on a Friday, at 10:30 (a.m.); we will be adopting the recommendation from the DLGF, approving the final ballot language,” she adds.

Daugherty is also optimistic, saying the school corporation will now wait until November to hear from voters about whether they will approve one, both, or neither of the questions.

“We’ll try to educate some people in the community,” he adds. “Hopefully they will approve it. If not, then we’ll be back in two years to ask again.”