Why Tim Wesco and Carlin Yoder are silent on Concord school's referendum

Carlin Yoder and Tim Wesco explain why they haven't expressed support for Concord Community Schools' referendum.

Posted on April 24, 2014 at 12:04 p.m.

Only one of two school referendums in Elkhart County has gotten a stamp of approval from two Indiana legislators.

Elkhart Community Schools and Concord Community Schools are asking for extra funds through an additional property tax in the May 6 primary election.

State Sen. Carlin Yoder and Rep. Tim Wesco have said residents should vote for Elkhart's referendum, calling it "necessary" and "reasonable."

On the subject of Concord's referendum, however, both legislators have been silent.

Wesco emphasized in an interview with The Elkhart Truth on Wednesday, April 23, that he is supporting Elkhart's referendum because "the Elkhart referendum is going to very specific things and things that are tangible."

When asked if Concord's request for funds is less specific and less tangible, Wesco said, "Maybe."

He added that he is not as familiar with the Concord referendum, but that Concord is asking taxpayers to approve a significantly higher tax rate.

If Concord's referendum passes, it will mean a tax rate of 40 cents per $100 of assessed property value in addition to the property taxes already going to Concord schools.

Elkhart's referendum would mean an extra 18 cents per $100 of assessed property value going to the school corporation. 

Concord schools has said that the extra money is needed to bolster funds suffering from state-mandated property tax caps. These funds pay for things like new buses, repairs to buildings and field trips.

Elkhart's referendum proposal includes plans to update safety in all the school buildings (including enclosing several classrooms that are "open-concept"), reduce a two-mile walk zone for students, and repairs to buildings and grounds.

Wesco said that he is "not taking a position either way" on Concord's referendum.

He felt he could support Elkhart's referendum, he said, because a member of the campaign group Yes4Elkhart reached out to him and after looking into Elkhart schools' request, he felt it deserved his support.

Yoder said he is neutral when it comes to Concord's referendum.

"I haven’t really gotten involved in that one, to be honest," he said. "They haven’t reached out to me. I’ve looked at (the Elkhart referendum) pretty closely; I’ve worked with Rob (Haworth, Elkhart superintendent) and in the past with Mark Mow (former superintendent). They've done a good job and their finances have been hurt by the property tax caps."

Yoder also said that at least for Elkhart schools, a referendum is "pretty much their only choice at this point."

Follow reporter Lydia Sheaks on Twitter at @LydiaSheaks

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