View Mobile Site

Voters reject KCSD referenda

Posted: November 6, 2014 6:10 p.m.
Updated: November 7, 2014 1:00 a.m.
/

 

To the dismay of some Kershaw County residents and the pleasure of others, voters rejected the Kershaw County School District (KCSD) referenda that would have launched $130 million in facilities projects and levied a 1-cent sales tax to pay back bonds that would have been issued to fund those projects.

According to the Kershaw County Voter Registration Office, 9,097 people voted “no” in answer to a question on the bond issue for construction; 8,755 people voted “yes.” The sales tax question received 10,864 “no” votes and 7,475 “yes” votes.

“We knew it would be close,” KCSD Executive Director of Operations Billy Smith said.

Smith and other district officials gathered with referendum supporters Tuesday night to await the results from all precincts.

Kershaw County Board of School Trustees member Louis Clyburn Jr. said he was “shocked” as the results rolled in. He said some people he encountered in the days leading up to Election Day were not entirely familiar with the referenda.

“Some people that I talked to were confused about what taxes they were voting for,” Clyburn said.

If voters had approved the bond question, but not the sales tax measure, Kershaw County would have had to levy a 34-mill increase in property taxes.

School board Chair Mara Jones said she’s thankful to the people who were in support of the referendum, but disappointed in how information concerning the referendum was distributed.

“I am really pleased with all the work the committee has done and all the support given,” Jones said. “However, I am disappointed with the misinformation shared by opposition to ‘Vote Yes Twice.’”

KCSD Superintendent Dr. Frank Morgan said the requested projects listed in the Phase 2 referendum still require attention and hopes the community will become more active in providing solutions for work on the intended schools.

“Certainly, we’re disappointed, but the electorate has spoken,” Morgan said. “Unfortunately, the problems the referendum was designed to solve are still there. They don’t fix themselves. We still have deteriorating septic, HVAC, plumbing and electrical systems at several elementary schools. Lugoff-Elgin High School has leakage problems caused by poor design and construction in 1992 that ultimately have to be fixed.

“A number of our schools don’t have up to date fire suppression systems, obviously a serious safety issue.  The small elementary schools cost $4,000 or more per student to operate than our larger ones. Bethune Elementary has barely above 90 students, 13 in the kindergarten class.  Mt. Pisgah Elementary is 90 years old. The visitor’s side bleachers at Zemp Stadium are badly in need of replacement, and there doesn’t seem to be much support in the electorate for funding improvements to athletic facilities.”

Ben Connell, chair of Kershaw County Citizens for Children, who hosted Tuesday night’s gathering at his law office, said he is disappointed but hopeful the Kershaw County community will come together to devise a plan to fund the proposed projects.

“The voters certainly spoke,” Connell said. “I am hopeful we can come together and figure it out. Maybe this effort planted some seeds for innovation growth.”

Sheri Few, a member of Citizens Against New Taxes (CANT), said the group was against the referenda.

“(We are), obviously, very pleased with the outcome of the tax referendum questions,” Few said. “It is evident from the results of Question 1, that if we had not been engaged, our county would be strapped with higher property taxes to fund the school district’s list of projects. It is also evident from the disparity of the outcome of the two questions that the school district was successful in confusing voters by splitting the issues into two questions.”

Few said, however, enough people rejected the “convoluted wording” of both referenda and sent a message to the school board and district that residents do not want new taxes and the district must maintain facilities within its existing budget. 

“Superintendent Morgan has already been on Facebook saying ‘we will be back,’ so we will remain vigilant as they will not give up on raising our taxes rather than living within the confines of their $67 million annual budget,” Few said.

In a statement emailed to the C-I on Wednesday, Morgan said the challenge for the board is how to address these projects in another way.

“I expect the board to give me some direction at its next meeting as to possible options,” Morgan said. “For example, using the board’s 8 percent authority to raise property taxes to fund facilities improvements.”

Morgan said he was hopeful voters who did not support the referenda will now “step up with realistic solutions.”

 

Comments

Commenting not available.
Commenting is not available.


Contents of this site are © Copyright 2018 Chronicle Independent All rights reserved. Privacy policy and Terms of service

Powered by
Morris Technology
Please wait ...