AVON, Ind. -- A contentious $9.5 million referendum in Avon for its schools is taking another heated turn.
Members of an organization supporting a tax raise for the schools, Vote Yes 4 Avon Schools, believe dozens of their signs are missing or have been vandalized.
The school district wants to raise property taxes up to $0.35 per $100 of net assessed property value. It says funds will help attract and retain teachers, reduce class sizes and increase instructional support. Without approval, the group said the district could lose teachers and programs for students.
Supporters of the referendum say the district has done everything it can to try to trim the budget. Still, the school system needs more money.
"Unfortunately, our class sizes have ballooned to an unfortunate level," teacher Karen Eglen said.
Eglen keeps one of the campaigns signs in her yard. Earlier this week, she said she found a sign in town similar to hers that wasn't as it should be.
"Unfortunately, I noticed that some of our yes signs had tape or something over top of some of the portions that said yes and instead it said no," she said.
"We try to model a great campaign that our students and our children will be proud of, and we just think this time it takes it too far," said Chris Tincher, co-chair of the PAC "Yes 4 Avon Schools."
Tincher said they believe about 30 signs are missing or defaced. Avon police said they recovered at least one sign that was altered and are looking into the matter.
"It is a crime and when you take a situation where you're moving property with the intent to defraud anyone of its value or its purpose or its use that does in fact meet the statutory requirements for theft and in some instances it actually meets the requirements to establish criminal mischief as well," said Assistant Avon Police Chief Brian Nugent.
Those against the referendum said they have had signs disappear, too. They also said they've received inappropriate and lewd messages online and through their social media pages.
"It's just terrible that it reflects this way on Avon because the people that live here are a lot better than that," said Carl Blackard, who helped start the PAC "No More Avon Taxes."
Blackard said he believes funding is already there for the schools.
"Our taxes are already very high, in fact just yesterday I got a new tax assessment bill so my taxes are going up about 9 percent, and then if this passes we're gonna have another big 17, 18 percent increase, so it's a lot of money," Blackard said.
While differing in views on Tuesday's referendum, both sides seem to find common ground on the need to respect one another. That's something law enforcement echoes as well.
"Please remain respectful on both sides, take time, educate yourself on all the issues involved and just be an informed voter and not really have to resort to any sort of criminal acts like this that can kind of make things a little more complicated for both sides," Nugent said.
For more information on "Vote Yes 4 Avon Schools" click here.
For more information on "No More Avon Taxes" click here.