Morgan County voters have spoken and they’ve approved the one-cent sales tax referendum.
Unofficial numbers from last night’s General Election showed 6,615 voters were in favor of the sales tax, compared to 4,434 voters who voted against the referendum.
Mary Fergurson, from the A Cent Makes Sense committee, was thrilled to see the sales tax pass. She believes the District 117 school board had a major factor in the final vote.
“We have tremendous leadership at the helm of District 117 and Steve Ptacek has been energetic and an enormous aid in getting the information out on the conditions of our schools,” says Fergurson.
“The necessity of furnishing the pride we have in education in this town.”
A sales tax measure in Morgan County was voted down in March 2012 and Fergurson talks about why it failed.
“We just didn’t have a base of support within the community and the trust between the school board and our partner districts in Morgan County didn’t exist,” says Fergurson.
“There were so many things that were working against the sales tax referendum. The plan was not one that was supported by the community.”
The March 2012 sales tax vote received a total of 6,255 votes and the sales tax referendum that passed blew that number out of the water with an unofficial total of 11,049 votes.
Fergurson says the results from the March 2012 election showed supporters of the one-cent sales tax that they needed to go about things in a different way.
“From that lesson, I think there was a core of people in the community who felt the only way forward was to develop consensus within a broad base,” says Fergurson.
“That project was undertaken in the community and I think it has produced the sweetest fruit.”
With information from the Vision 117 community engagements sessions and the support of districts in the area, Fergurson believes the community was more aware and involved with the sales tax process this time around, which lead to higher vote totals.
“I think we are two and a half years deeper into difficult financial situations,” says Fergurson.
“We are dealing with cutbacks of state aid. By laying out objective data on how much it is going to cost to improve those classrooms and provide 21st century eduction to our students, it really resonated within folks.”
Greene County was also in the midst of a sales tax referendum. Much like in Morgan County, voters were in favor of the sales tax. A total of 2,281 voters approved the sales tax, compared to 1,973 against the referendum.
Also passing in the General Election last night was the Waverly Bond worth $3.5 million. After Waverly’s latest health, life, safety survey, the elementary school was found to not be compliant with several safety codes.
475 voters were in favor of the bond and 183 were against.