Record Voter Turnout for School Levy
By Shari Dovale
The Lake Pend Orielle School District put a Plant Facilities Levy on the ballot yesterday, August 30th. The $55 million levy drew harsh criticism from residents around the district.
While only requiring a 55% vote to pass, the levy was soundly defeated by overwhelming numbers of about 65% to 35%.
The unprecedented voter turnout was a resounding 50.5% of registered voters, a hard feat to accomplish even during General elections. This levy was a single issue put on the ballot during a month that typically shows residents distracted or on vacation.
The levy was defeated with the final (unofficial) tally being 2953 in Favor of passing (or 34.96%) versus those Against at 5493 (or 65.02%). The final summary is shown below.
Out of 23 precincts only 2 received more votes in favor of the levy, but not by overwhelming numbers. A few precincts topped 60% on their voter turnout, with nearly all of the precincts needing additional ballots printed and brought to them.
The clerk’s office had not anticipated the massive response the community would bring out to this school tax. It was not hard for them to fulfill the additional ballot requests, it just kept them surprised and traveling to the different precincts beginning at about 3:oo in the afternoon.
In talking to the residents about the levy, many complained that the school district was out of touch with the taxpayers and did not appreciate the hardships they would face under this tax.
Some expressed their anger at not being a part of the planning phase. They felt that residents should have had a voice in issues of this magnitude.
What is uncertain is what response they will receive from the district administrators. Some of the school buildings definitely need attention, but this was not the solution that taxpayers needed to hear. Let’s hope the taxpayers and the district can work together to resolve this issue to everyone’s benefit.
One thing is certain, however, the residents are awake and paying attention. The overwhelming voter turnout for this levy vote is proof that the citizens are angry. They are taking control as only the citizens can … with their vote.