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A “controlled project” generally encompasses any project financed by bonds or a lease
Controlled projects involving an elementary school building, middle school building, or other school building for academic instruction that will be used for any combination of kindergarten through grade 8, will not be used for any combination of grade 9 through grade 12, and will cost more than $10,000,000 must be approved by a majority of voters in a referendum. Likewise, controlled projects involving a high school building or other school building for academic instruction that will be used for any combination of grade 9 through grade 12, will not be used for any combination of kindergarten through grade 8, and will cost more than $20,000,000 must be approved by a majority of voters in a referendum.
Any controlled project that does not involve a school building as described above and that will cost a political subdivision (county, township, city, town, separate municipal corporation, special taxing district, or school corporation) more than the lesser of $12,000,000 or an amount equal to 1% of the total gross assessed value of property within the political subdivision on the last assessment date (if that amount is at least $1,000,000) must also be approved by a majority of voters in a referendum.
Indiana Code 6-1.1-20-3.6 governs the controlled project referendum process. Per IC 6-1.1-20-3.6(e), ballot language for a controlled project referendum must be approved by the Department of Local Government Finance (“Department”) before it may be placed on a ballot. The Department must either approve the ballot language as submitted or recommend that the ballot language be modified as necessary to ensure that the description of the controlled project is accurate and is not biased. The Department is also responsible for determining the tax rate increase that would result if the controlled project is approved. The tax rate determined by the Department must be cited in the ballot question.
The Department must certify its approval or recommendations to the county auditor and the county election board not more than ten days after the proposed question is submitted to the Department for review. If the Department recommends a modification to the ballot language, the county election board must, after reviewing the recommendations of the Department, submit modified ballot language to the Department for its approval or recommendation of any additional modifications.
The public question may not be certified by the county auditor to the county election board for placement on the ballot unless the Department has first certified its final approval of the proposed language.
Indiana Code 6-1.1-20-3.6(i) prohibits the artificial division of a capital project into multiple capital projects for the purpose of avoiding a referendum.
Click HERE to review information on past controlled project referenda.