September 13, 2013



JEFFERSON

The 10-year physical plant and equipment levy (PPEL) for the future Greene County School District officially failed this morning when the vote tally did not change in the final canvass, Greene County Deputy Auditor Billie Jo Hoskins reported.

On Tuesday, the measure was tied with 330 votes for and 330 votes against. One absentee ballot had not been returned. It had still not arrived this morning, leaving the vote tied. Because a PPEL requires a majority vote to pass, the tie means the levy failed.

The Greene County School District will officially consolidate next year, merging the Jefferson-Scranton and East Greene community school districts. Superintendent Tim Christensen said officials plan to request a recount, but he was encouraged by the results.

"I'm not saying any mistakes were made, but with 660 ballots counted by hand, it's worth a shot," he said. "I was kind of surprised, but pleased, it was so close. Any time you're looking at increasing taxes, it's not popular."

If passed, the PPEL would have provided approximately $600,000 annually to the district. The funds would have been used primarily to replace roofs on the elementary, middle and high school buildings, to purchase new buses, and to update heating and cooling equipment. No funds from a PPEL can be used to pay employee salaries or benefits. According to Christensen, the cost of the levy would be about $325 for a married couple earning $50,000 a year.

If the levy failure stands, the next opportunity to place it back on the ballot would be in February of 2014, a move Christensen said district officials would consider.

"At least half were in favor," he said. "For the half that weren't, we just need to do a little better job making the case for why we need it."

Christensen said that he was also encouraged that people got out and voted.

"We talk all the time about how every vote counts," he said. "This is a good lesson."