Franklin schools consider options for lowering debt

Local residents won’t be asked to pay more in property taxes as a way to help Franklin schools pay down debt.

Franklin school officials have ruled out seeking a tax-hike referendum to pay for the school district’s debt as well as help make payments for building upgrades and technology.

While legally an option, Franklin has not asked for referendums in the past because residents aren’t likely to support them, executive director of finance Jeff Mercer said. Center Grove schools proposed a referendum in 2010 when it was concerned about having to make cuts, but voters rejected the idea.

“I don’t think our community would view that favorably,” Mercer said.

Still, Franklin needs to find a way to reduce its annual debt payments. Property tax caps limit the amount of money the school district can collect in taxes and use to pay its debt, including more than $100 million borrowed nearly a decade ago to renovate the old high school and construct the new high school. School officials expect shortfalls on average of $2.5 million per year for the next 10 years.

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