CARLSBAD — With just one question on Tuesday’s Carlsbad Municipal Schools election ballot, the answer from voters was clear: yes to House Bill 33.
Though voter turnout was low, more than 77 percent of the 408 participants voted in favor of HB 33.
Ninety-two voted against the bill, while 316 voted positively.
“When you get 75 or 76 percent of the vote, that’s a good thing,” CMS Superintendent Gary Perkowski said. “Now we can start working on getting the schools upgraded.”
Although the totals were favorable to the district, Perkowski said the low turnout displayed “apathy.”
“It’s probably less than 10 percent of the voters,” he said.
Election official Karen Nelson attributed the slight number of voters to the small ballot.
“There haven’t been many people because of just having one question,” she said on Tuesday afternoon. “If there were people running for school board, I think more people would have come out to vote.”
School board elections will take place in February 2017.
Nelson was working at the County Clerk’s Office, and they had seen only 31 voters by Tuesday afternoon.
Voter Jane Lester, who voted at the County Clerk’s Office, said the lack of information given by the district on the election and HB 33 made her suspicious, resulting in her voting no.
“I feel like when things aren’t publicized, there’s something behind it that we don’t know about,” Lester said, who had only found out about the election that morning.
The district had been more concerned about this year’s vote on the bill, which normally passes easily. The concerns stem from some voters’ frustration on the recent property tax increase due to the $60 million bond issue that took place in 2014. That money was to be used for four new elementary schools, which has panned out to not be enough to pay for three new schools.
Those new schools were one of the reasons Marguerite Carmichael came out to St. Peter Lutheran Church to vote.
“We started this process and we need to get it finished,” she said, adding the money is also needed to fund maintenance. “We have to keep our schools going.”
While the district is still looking at options for funding the completion of the third school, HB 33 funds could be used for some aspects of the project.
HB 33 is a mill levy that Perkowski said has been in place since the 1990s. A pamphlet printed by the district on the election emphasized that the passage of HB 33 does not raise property taxes, as it is already currently in place.
If it had failed to pass the district would have lost $3.8 million, and the mill levy would have been removed from property taxes.
Maddy Hayden can be reached at 575-628-5512.
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