Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Two strong votes for taxes; special elections again prove allure

Posted By on Wed, Jun 14, 2017 at 7:04 AM

click to enlarge HAPPY: Pulaski School Superintndent Jerry Guess (glasses) joins school board members in celebrating special election tax vote.
  • HAPPY: Pulaski School Superintndent Jerry Guess (glasses) joins school board members in celebrating special election tax vote.
In case you missed it, I updated yesterday's item on special elections in the Pulaski County School District and Pine Bluff last night with news that voters in both places had given overwhelming approval to tax issues.

Pine Bluff voters favored a seven-year sales tax increase for city improvements 3831-1708.

Pulaski County school voters approved a 13-year extension of an existing property tax by a vote of 2,628 to 1,337 to raise more than $100 million for rebuilding and expanding Sylvan Hills High School.

Noted: Decidedly mixed voting in the Pulaski school election.  Voters in at least a couple dozen polling places — ranging from Maumelle to western Little Rock to the southeast portion of the county —  failed to approve the millage, but in very light turnouts. But the additional years of tax won whopping margins in Sherwood and surrounding territory to be served by the new high school. Eight precincts in Sherwood and environs (of 137) provided more than 2,000 of the votes the tax received.

Griping came afterward from the anti-tax Koch political organization, Americans for Prosperity, which noted only 5 percent of voters cast ballots. They, and now the Arkansas law, favor school voting at regular election dates in May and November, with some exceptions. A clue as to why  can be found in the voting results in the Pulaski County School District.

School millages are put on the ballot at each regular school election by state law, but the millage remains in place even if voters disapprove. In the May 12, 2015, held on the same day as the primary election, some 13 percent of voters cast ballots and they voted AGAINST the Pulaski school tax 7,209 to 2,355. Then, when the millage was on the ballot in the November 2016  general election (a presidential election), some 65 percent of registered voters turned out in Pulaski County and, again, the routine school millage was disapproved, this time 27,289 AGAINST to 22,818 FOR.

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