Schools pass bond issues but voters reject PH, IML proposals
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Schools pass bond issues but voters reject PH, IML proposals

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Voter turnout was low but the voting process was smooth for an election that was originally scheduled in April and postponed to June due to the coronavirus outbreak.

“Turnout of registered voters was low, roughly about 13%,” St. Francois County Clerk Kevin Engler said. “Bigger turnout on in-person absentee voting, and we encourage people for the August primary to do the same thing.

"It went pretty smooth, we had a couple of glitches, making sure people had the right ballots, but overall, no problems.”

There were 856 absentee ballots cast.

North County Prop S

North County Proposition S, a no-tax-increase bond issue emphasizing accessibility, safety and security, had a successful night at the polls.

The totals from Ste. Genevieve and St. Francois counties — zero votes were cast in Jefferson County — came in at 78.8% in favor of the issue, or 1,148 votes in favor, and 308 against. Four-sevenths or 57.14% of the voters were needed to cast their ballots in favor of the no-tax-increase measure that will raise about $13,500,000.

Superintendent Dr. Jeff Levy said he was “ecstatic” about the results of his first bond issue run as superintendent.

“First and foremost, a great job was done by our Project Student Committee, they went above and beyond to connect to the community and get the word out,” he said. “I’d also say the success of this issue is also due to the relationship we have with our architects and the resources they gave us to show voters what we were committed to doing.”

Levy said the next step will be to work with the architects to come up with a possible timeline for the safety, accessibility and infrastructural projects, and work with board members — including newly-elected Julie Pratte, Stacy Wilfong and Alan Gremminger — to prioritize the list.

Municipal Election Results

Poll workers have their ballots processed at St. Francois County Election Central Tuesday night.

“I’m incredibly excited about this,” Levy said. “Our goal has been unity, and Prop S has been something we’ve been pulling together and rallying everyone around, to do what’s best for all students. The success of pulling together in unity spoke loud and clear tonight.”

The funds cannot be used for salaries or benefits, utilities, operating costs or anything else that’s not outlined by the legal verbiage on the ballot.

Central Prop SAFE Passes

Central School District Proposition SAFE (Students Are First Everyday), a no-tax-increase bond issue to improve campus safety, was passed. 

The measure was passed by citizens of St. Francois and Ste. Genevieve counties, receiving 690 "yes" votes and 221 "no" votes.

School Superintendent Dr. Ashley McMillian said he was pleased the district was able to get the bond issue passed and wanted to thank the community for their support.

“We’re extremely excited and very thankful to the voters and the community of Park Hills,” said McMillian. “It’s a great feeling to have their support and we’re looking forward to getting started on the project.”

Now that the proposition has received voter approval, the district will borrow $6 million to improve school facilities without increasing the current property tax levy within the school district.

Part of the plan is to create a stand-alone tornado safe room to house the weight room, boys' and girls' locker rooms, wrestling practice area, and bathrooms.

The board wants to transform the high school weight room into two additional classrooms to accommodate projected enrollment increases. High school enrollment is 602 students, with projections of 670 students in 2024. Administrators say more students will require more space. McMillian said the high school’s heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system requires upgrades. He explained the current systems are more than 20 years old, and contractors have advised the school to replace the old units. Some safety improvements to all facilities in the district will include camera upgrades and “Knox boxes” — which provide first responders with access to buildings. U-hooks will also be installed on all classroom doors, helping secure classroom entries if an intruder enters one of the schools.

“Once again, we just can’t say enough about the job the committee did on getting the word out there, and the voters for getting to the polls to vote,” McMillian added. “We really appreciate that.”

McMillian also thanked everyone in local media for reporting on Proposition SAFE and getting information out to voters.

Park Hills Question Fails

Voters in Park Hills rejected a use tax that was placed on Tuesday’s ballot by the city.

The measure failed by a margin of 4.06%, with 320 voters opposed to the tax and 295 votes in favor of it.

The city council placed the ballot proposition in an effort to help generate additional revenue for repairs to city streets, sidewalks, and stormwater infrastructure.

City Administrator Mark McFarland said the vote was a lot closer than when the city attempted to pass the tax in 2018.

“It was very close,” said McFarland. “There was a very low voter turnout that’s for sure. I’ve never seen one this low.

“Of course, when you take an April election and move it to June -- that could probably affect some things,” he said. “But, it did a lot better than last time.”

McFarland said the city has been deficit spending for the past six years and will have to try to find ways to tighten the budget down further, though he said there is not much left that the city can cut from its annual budget, other than services and personnel.

Had it been passed, the use tax would have applied a 2.75% tax to goods purchased online or from out-of-state -- the same sales tax rate charged on purchases made within city limits. It would have only been applied if the total amount of taxable goods purchased exceeded $2,000 in a calendar year.

There is currently no municipal tax on these items.

In April 2018, a similar measure was put to the vote in both Park Hills as well as Desloge; however, voters in both cities rejected the tax. City officials had hoped the tax would pass and provide some additional revenue to help balance the budget while making improvements to city infrastructure.

McFarland explained that the recent pandemic had compounded the budgetary issues as the city has seen less tax revenue.

“We don’t know how much this is going to affect us,” he said. “We’re hoping it doesn’t affect us too much.”

He said the city’s Gross Receipt Tax, which is charged against each public utility, was down as a result of local businesses and schools being closed or operating with limited hours.

“Our Gross Receipt Tax was down about $20,000 on just our Ameren Gross Receipt numbers for last month,” he mentioned.

Farmington Prop 1-2 Passes

Farmington's two tax extension propositions passed.

Prop 1 was the transportation tax which passed with 597 yes votes to 404 no votes.

Prop 2 was the parks and recreation and stormwater tax which passed with 673 yes votes to 330 no votes.

Farmington City Administrator Greg Beavers said that he was happy that the voters supported these two tax extensions.

“We had these on the ballot first in 2011 for road, parks and stormwater improvements,” he said. “I think if you look around town you see that we spent that money according to previous commitments. We will do that again going forward. These new taxes do not go into effect for two years, so that secures 12 years of funding for the city.”

Iron Mountain Lake Question Fails

Iron Mountain Lake’s ballot proposal failed. A total of 57 residents voted yes for the proposal while 63 voted no. The city was asking for a $500,000 bond for infrastructure.

Municipal board races

In the race for Iron Mountain Lake mayor, Matthew Shane French won with 64 votes. Charlie Wiles received 55 votes while Chad Bailey received one vote.

In the other races in Iron Mountain Lake, Anthony Gray was elected to Ward 2 with 25 votes, beating his opponent Allen Grafton who had 17 votes. Jody Montgomery was elected to Ward 3 (two-year term) with 19 votes while his opponent David Manning received 17 votes.

In Leadwood, Randy Howard unseated Bill Resinger by one vote. Howard received 16 votes. Resinger received 15 votes.

In Park Hills Ward 2, Stacey Easter unseated David Easter with 69 votes (62%) to his 41. In Park Hills Ward 4, Steve Weinhold will keep his seat. He received 112 votes while Ginger Pizarro received 83 votes.

In the Bismarck Ward 1 race, Ryan Wallis was the winner with 33 votes while Eugenia “Jeanie” Steltzer received 28 votes.

In the Bismarck Ward 2 race, there was a tie between Lochie Counts and Dustin Garling. Each received 35 votes. As of Tuesday night, Jeremy Shy, who was elected as mayor in an unopposed race, said they will be discussing how to resolve the situation.

“I’ll have to have a conversation with them and then go from there,” Shy said.

Alvin Sutton will keep his Desloge Ward 3 seat, receiving 106 votes while his opponent Patty Cagle received 95.

John Clark was elected to the St. Francois County Road District 2 Commission, receiving 207 votes (64%) while his opponent Larry Lachance received 112 votes.

School Board races

Elected to the North County School Board were Julie Pratte with 757 votes; Stacey Wilfong with 773; and Alan Gremminger with 706. Jake Long received 631 votes while Adam Froidl received 416 and Stacey Kay received 458.

Elected to the Bismarck School Board were Bill Skaggs Jr. receiving 203 votes; Matt Dunn receiving 206 votes; Terry Skinner receiving 152 votes. Brad Brown received 143 votes.

Elected to a one-year term on the West County School Board was Chris Briley, receiving 194 votes. His opponent Rocky Stevens received 185 votes.

Elected to the Farmington School Board were Angela Hahn with 1,044 votes; Jerry Freeman with 982 votes; and Howard Hoehn with 804 votes. Dylan Nicholson received 668 votes.

In the Central School Board race, incumbent Dennis Norris will remain on the board with 479 votes while the other incumbent Mark McFarland was not reelected (receiving 420 votes). Joining Norris on the board will be Diann Bess with 500 votes and Dena Nicholson Hart with 561 votes.

Madison County races

Madison County voters passed both propositions and elected members to local boards and city councils.

There were 930 ballots cast, representing 11.6% of Madison County’s 8,019 registered voters.

Madison County Ambulance District’s “Proposition Property Tax Relief” passed 665-241.

“Madison County Ambulance District would like to thank the voters of Madison County for their support tonight and their continued support,” Madison County Ambulance District Administrator Robbie Buesking said. “We look forward to providing the best in Advanced Life Support to our citizens for years to come.”

The Fredericktown School District’s Proposition 2 passed 600-257.

“We, the board of education, district administration and staff, are all so very appreciative and grateful to the voters of our school community for the passage of our ballot measure,” Fredericktown Superintendent Brett Reutzel said. “We have stated many times that without these funds over the past ten years, there are building projects such as our FEMA shelters, Intermediate addition and regular upkeep and maintenance as well the retention of high-quality staff members that would not have been possible.

"We are so thankful. This passage will help us continue to make improvements to our facilities. We are very proud of our school and community. We want the best for our students. This is really all about them.”

In the City of Fredericktown, there was one contested race for alderman in Ward III. Incumbent Jim Miller won reelection with 62 votes. Challenger Joseph Saxon received 36 votes.

In the race for a position on the Madison Medical Center Board of Trustees. Elizabeth “Libby” Wood won with 503 votes. Darren Ellis received 373 votes.

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