School bond and tax elections in Delaware

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School bond and tax elections in Delaware happen under two circumstances:
  • To issue new bonding.
  • To exceed the state's levy cap.

Laws affecting school finance

Delaware bond issue law

Under Delaware law, all school districts must call for a special election in order to issue new bonds.[1] School districts can issue new bonds for capital improvements, new construction or the acquisition of lands and buildings.[2]

Before a school district can call for a bond election, all bonds must be approved by the Delaware Attorney General. Delaware is one of a handful of states that requires school districts to obtain some form of approval from a state government unit before issuing bonds for certain purposes.[3]

In most counties in Delaware, school districts cannot exceed ten percent (10%) of their total debt valuation when issuing new bonds. In some of Delaware's largest counties there are different limits. In Sussex County, school districts cannot exceed fifty percent (50%) of their total debt valuation, while in Kent County school districts cannot exceed sixty percent (60%) of their debt.[4]

Delaware levy law

Delaware requires a levy election if a school district wants to increase or decrease a tax levy. When asking for a levy referendum, a school district may also have to ask for an additional ten percent in addition to the original levy rate increase to cover liabilities and delinquencies they may have to pay back.[5]

The basis of setting levy rates for school districts is the aggregate assessment to sales price ratio for all types of real estate in the respected county where the school district is located. These ratios are presented in the 1982 Taxable Property Values and Assessments survey for Delaware from the United States Bureau of Census.[6]

A school district in Delaware is given only one year to exceed its levy limits without voter approval for a levy originally authorized via popular vote.[7]

Also, Delaware mandates elections if a school district that uses a levy funded by real estate taxes, wants to increase or decrease their actual operating levy funded by that method.[8]

Conduct of the bond election, limitations, rules

Authority conducting elections

The county elections board in each respective county is responsible for holding elections in regards to school finances.[9]

Election dates

There are no restrictions on when elections can be held under state law.

Needed majority

A simple majority is needed to pass a bond or levy election under Delaware law.[10][11]

Special elections

All school bond and levy elections are considered special elections under Delaware law.[12] A school district cannot hold more than two special bond elections in a year.[13]

If a levy election gets voted down in a school district, two months must elapse before making an attempt to put it on the ballot again. This can be done if 25 percent or more of the school districts voters ask the respective Board of Education for a new election.[14]

Wording of measures

All school bond elections in Delaware must be conducted via voting machines. For bond and levy elections the wording of the measure on the voting machine shall include a statement of the question which is being voted for and against. There is no mandatory yes/no or minimum word length requirement under Delaware law for ballot measures involving school finance.[15][16]

Required notice of bond election

There is no required notice for a bond or levy election under Delaware law, also there is no mandatory elapse requirement between when a school board approves a resolution and the actual election date. The law requiring notice for levy elections was repealed by the Delaware Legislature in 2003.[17]

See also

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References

  1. "Delaware Legislature" Delaware School Bond Law(Referenced Statute 14§ 2122 Delaware Code)
  2. "Delaware Legislature" Delaware School Bond Law(Referenced Statute 14§2102 Delaware Code)
  3. "Delaware Legislature" Delaware School Bond Law(Referenced Statute 14§2106 Delaware Code)
  4. "Delaware Legislature" Delaware School Bond Law(Referenced Statute 14§2107 Delaware Code)
  5. "Delaware Legislature" Delaware School Bond Law(Referenced Statute 14§1913(a) Delaware Code)
  6. "Delaware Legislature" Delaware School Bond Law(Referenced Statute 14§1913(b)(1) Delaware Code)
  7. "Delaware Legislature" Delaware School Bond Law(Referenced Statute 14§1914 Delaware Code)
  8. "Delaware Legislature" Delaware School Bond Law(Referenced Statute 14§2122(e) Delaware Code)
  9. "Delaware Legislature" Delaware School Bond Law(Referenced Statute 15§101(2) Delaware Code)
  10. "Delaware Legislature" Delaware School Bond Law(Referenced Statute 14§2123(a) Delaware Code)
  11. "Delaware Legislature" Delaware School Bond Law(Referenced Statute 14§1911 Delaware Code)
  12. "Delaware Legislature" Delaware School Bond Law(Referenced Statute 14§2122(a) Delaware Code)
  13. "Delaware Legislature" Delaware School Bond Law(Referenced Statute 14§2122(f) Delaware Code)
  14. "Delaware Legislature" Delaware School Bond Law(Referenced Statute 14§1914 Delaware Code)
  15. "Delaware Legislature" Delaware School Bond Law(Referenced Statute 14§1908(a)(b) Delaware Code)
  16. "Delaware Legislature" Delaware School Bond Law(Referenced Statute 14§2122(d) Delaware Code)
  17. "Delaware Legislature" Delaware School Bond Law(Referenced Statute 14§1904 Delaware Code)