Caesar Rodney residents voted against tax hikes in a referendum Saturday, April 22.

Caesar Rodney referendum results, next steps for district

Jarek RutzHeadlines, Education

Caesar Rodney residents voted against tax hikes in a referendum Saturday, April 22.

Caesar Rodney residents voted against tax hikes in a referendum Saturday, April 22.

The Caesar Rodney School District plans to go to referendum again after their request to raise school taxes by 27.7%, or $211 annually for the average homeowner, failed Saturday.

“We believe the results of our recent referendum are not a reflection of our community’s lack of support for the district, rather our need to better clarify needs and the impact on our schools,” Superintendent Christine Alois said. “We will be reaching back out to our Rider family to work collaboratively on next steps.”

RELATED: Caesar Rodney residents divided on April 22 tax hike vote

Caesar Rodney has stated that the district’s expenses are outpacing its revenue, and the tax hike would help pay for utilities, maintenance, building budgets and initiatives outlined in its 2022-2027 Strategic Plan.

Saturday’s referendum was a result of the district being granted an $11,037,200 Certificate of Necessity grant from the state, but to receive that money, it needs to raise $4,508,152 in local funds, for a total of $15,545,352.

RELATED: Caesar Rodney wants to raise school taxes 27.7%

The average taxpayer in the district owns a house with an assessed value of $40,300, so they would have their taxes increased by $211.58 in 2024 and another $36.11 in 2025 and 2026.

Here’s how Saturday’s vote turned out:

Question 1: HVAC upgrade and repair for Magnolia Middle School

Final vote: 1,184 (64%) against; 663 (36%) for

The first question on the ballot pertains to updating the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system at Magnolia Middle School.

Voting for this would not have increased taxes at all, Alois said, since the district already has the money to complete it. 

Still, the majority voted against it. 

Question 2: Operating expenses for David Robinson Elementary and Magnolia Middle 

Final vote: 1,310 (71%) against; 535 (29%) for

The second question on the ballot would help fund operating costs for David E. Robinson Elementary School and Magnolia Middle School, both of which opened in 2022 without operating budgets.

Voting for this option would increase tax rates of 0.245 cents in year one, 0.02 cents in year two and 0.02 cents in year three for each $100 of assessed home value.

Question 3: General operating expenditures related to district growth

Final vote: 1,331 (72%) against; 524 (28%) for

The last question on Saturday’s ballot would have an increase in tax rates of 0.28 cents in year one, 0.09 cents in year two and 0.09 cents in year three – again, per $100 of assessed home value.

The revenue would help the district maintain and expand programs presented in the 2022-2027 Strategic Plan, which includes ensuring the district maintains a 1:1 device-to-student ratio.

It would also support the local portion of funding for staffing and capital improvements.

Next steps for Caesar Rodney

There is no time frame at this point for a second referendum. 

Per the terms of the Certificate of Necessity grant, Caesar Rodney must raise the $4,508,152 in order to receive $11,037,200 from the state.

Saturday’s referendum results are expected to be certified by the Department of Elections Wednesday, April 26 at 10 a.m.

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