Carol Pearson told the audience she was on the Ridge Farm School Board when the referendum to combine the two school districts came about.
"At the time of the referendum, Georgetown school district voters got one ballot to vote on the referendum," Pearson said. "Ridge Farm school district voters got two ballots. The second ballot was to keep our tax levy the same, which at that time was higher than Georgetown’s.”
Pearson said the idea was that Ridge Farm would keep its tax rate higher to fund the cost of building a new grade school building for Ridge Farm.
"We, the Ridge Farm residents, paid for that school building and you agreed to it and now you want to take it away from us," Pearson said.
Norma Davis of rural Georgetown, questioned why not close an older school and move those students to Ridge Farm.
Henigman-Neal said there are 150 students attending Ridge Farm and they can more easily be assimilated into other existing buildings without additional remodeling costs.
Henigman-Neal said that perhaps Georgetown-Ridge Farm had not been prudent about levying as much property tax as it could have in the past, which made it necessary to levy a higher amount now.
After the public hearing portion of the meeting, board members went into closed session for deliberations.
Upon return to open session, board members voted down a motion for a smaller property tax increase of 10.4 percent before approving the 14.03 percent increase. This would increase the district’s tax rate from $4.89 per $100 of assessed valuation to $5.20 per $100 of assessed valuation.
This would make the Georgetown-Ridge Farm school district one of the highest tax rates in Vermilion County. The Catlin school district has a $5.16 tax rate, while Westville has $4.95, Bismarck a $5.06 rate, Hoopeston a $4.60 rate and Oakwood with a $4.55 tax rate.