Archive for Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Election blog: Voters approve both sales tax issues

Voters are finding a change at the fire station polling place Tuesday. The polling booths aren't in their normal position behind the desk area, they are to the left. Poll workers say it has caused confusion for everyone, but votes are still being recorded in the sales tax ballot.

Voters are finding a change at the fire station polling place Tuesday. The polling booths aren't in their normal position behind the desk area, they are to the left. Poll workers say it has caused confusion for everyone, but votes are still being recorded in the sales tax ballot.

November 3, 2009, 9:56 a.m.

Updated: November 6, 2009, 2:46 p.m.

Baldwin City Voters approved a pair of sales tax questions during the only election in Douglas County Tuesday.

The first question, to extend a half-cent sales tax in place since 1991, passed 347-186, or 66.55 percent to 33.45 percent. It is to be used on infrastructure projects. The second question was a new quarter-cent sales tax to fund “quality of life” projects, such as hiking and biking trails, and the vote was much closer. It passed 290-243 or 55.18 percent to 44.82 percent.

There were 533 voters who cast ballots out of 2,895 registered voters. That’s a turnout of 20.41 percent and Douglas County Clerk Jamie Shew thought that was good.

“I think that’s very good,” said Shew, who was here to count the ballots. “I had anticipated 15 percent turnout. I think that’s very good turnout for the only election in the county.”

The last time Baldwin City had a special election was in 2005 when voters approved Sunday sale of liquor. In that election, 15.85 percent of the voters cast ballots. Mayor Ken Wagner was pleased with the turnout, too.

“Wow, that’s awesome,” said Wagner. “This is going to be a great deal for Baldwin City. I appreciate the voters’ confidence in us. The voter turnout was really good. That’s fantastic.”

Among the infrastructure projects the money will be used for is the city’s portion of a $3.5 million upgrade of north Sixth Street, which is County Road 1055. It is a joint project with Douglas County.

Wagner said it was important that people who visit Baldwin City help pay the $180,000 the half-cent sales tax has raised over the years and had been used to pay off the swimming pool early. The quarter-cent tax will raise another $87,500.

“I said all along we need to use this as an opportunity to raise money from the people who come through Baldwin City,” he said. “I thank the voters for making that happen.”

Opponents of the measures had cited that the questions didn’t include an end point for the taxes or specify what they would be used for.

“We’re going to be very prudent on how we spend this,” said Wagner. “This is a great thing for Baldwin City.”

Poll worker Danny McMillan thought the turnout, which mostly consisted of those over 40 years old at the fire station, was good, but he’d like more voters.

“I would have liked a lot more,” said McMillan. I’d like a full house opinion, not a small percentage.”

He’s worked the polls for many years and was asked if he’d seen that kind of turnout.

“No,” he said.

6 p.m. — The final votes are being cast in the Baldwin City sales tax election. Polls will close at 7 p.m. and results will be known around 8 p.m.

At the last check of polling places at 5:30 p.m., the numbers were still close. But the Legion Hall had finally pulled ahead with 156 votes cast. The fire station had registered 140 votes and the primary center had 136.

Another busy location is Ives Chapel Methodist Church where the traditional Election Day Chicken and Noodles feed is underway. The place was packed and the food was good.

We’ll be going to the Legion Hall around 7:15 p.m. to see how the count is going. We’ll be back for one final update with what the voters have chosen regarding the two sales tax questions.

3 p.m. — In a word, the Baldwin City sales tax election is close.

As of 2:45 p.m., 102 people had voted at the fire station, 101 at the Legion Hall and 100 at the primary center. Usually, the Legion Hall leads the way in most elections. However, the hall did lead in advance voting with 23 out of the 41 from Saturday’s vote, so it does have a slim margin.

After a steady stream of voters for most of the morning, that came to a close.

“I think we had a little lull before lunch,” said poll worker Danny McMillan. “I think we hit the wall about 11 a.m.”

Chances are the margin between yes and no votes could be the same. Blog your thoughts on the election by hitting comment below.

11:30 a.m. — The steady vote on the two sales tax questions for Baldwin City continues today.

As of 11:15 a.m., there have been 67 votes cast at the Baldwin Elementary School Primary Center, 61 at the fire station and 54 at the Legion Hall.

“We’ve had very steady voting,” said Becky McMillan, a poll worker at the fire station. “It may slow down this afternoon, but we haven’t had any breaks.”

Advance votes have also been cast, including 41 at the Baldwin City Public Library on Saturday.

“That is a really good turnout,” said Douglas County Clerk Jamie Shew.

Of those 41, 23 came from the Legion Hall precinct, so there have been more votes cast there than anywhere.

9 a.m. — Although Halloween is in the past, Tuesday’s election in Baldwin City is off to a spooky start.

At the first check at 9 a.m., all three polling places — American Legion Hall, fire station and Baldwin Elementary School Primary Center — had all recorded the same amount of votes. There have been 28 voters at each of the three places so far, although the primary center does have one provisional ballot.

Still, in the Signal’s 11 years of following elections, the vote totals have never been the same. Ever.

But the spookiness doesn’t stop there. Because of interior work at the fire station, the position of the polling booths has been changed. Everyone has been taken aback by that, poll workers said. Instead of being behind the area where ballots are given, the booths are to the left.

“It’s been so funny,” said McMillan. “People just don’t adapt.”

The Signal will be blogging about the election throughout the day. Voters are being asked to decide the fate of two sales tax questions. One is for continuing the half-cent tax that has been in place since 1991 to be used for infrastructure projects. The second is a quarter-cent tax for “quality of life” projects.

Polls opened at 7 a.m. and will close at 7 p.m. Shew will be at the Legion Hall to count the ballots. Results should be known by 8 p.m. and will be available online.

Comments

Torch 5 years, 1 month ago

My prediction is that it will pass...'it's for the children' works every time in this town.

0

sparky 5 years, 1 month ago

It seems like a bad dream to me. Its like we just keep slamming our head into the wall, wondering why we did it, then slamming it again into another wall.

0

SpeaksSlowlyToIdiots 5 years, 1 month ago

Where is your Glenn Beck now, Moses?

0

Torch 5 years, 1 month ago

Unbelievable.

Why don't I just give my paycheck to the city council?

What is it with the insatiable appetite of the people in this town?

0

SpeaksSlowlyToIdiots 5 years, 1 month ago

I highly respect your viewpoint, Torch. Although you can be caustic, at least I know you attempt to think things through and then construct a grammatically correct and understandable sentence.

However, I think you are incorrect about 'for the children' on this one. I never heard that phrase mentioned anywhere in this vote. I know it was used to ram the narrowly-passed school bond issue up our rectums, but this is an entirely different situation.

Say what you want, but 66% of the voters voting Yes to Prop 1 speaks loudly about asking people besides just property owners to kick in to undo the damage done by the cheapskate, skinflint, misers who ran this City's infrastructure into the ground for many years.

0

solo 5 years, 1 month ago

Is anyone else surprised at the number of people who actually voted in this special election? A 20% turnout isn't terrific, but it was much higher than I thought. Maybe all those green and white VOTE YES signs made the difference.

Any analysis on what demographic supported this?

0

BaldwinDad 5 years, 1 month ago

All we can do now is hold the Mayor and City Council accountable for how they spend our money.

Personally, i think the Quality of Life improvements are a little premature given all the other issues we have in this city, such as overpriced real estate levies, poor entry level education, lack of business growth, and sky rocketing utilities.

0

downtownretailer 5 years, 1 month ago

Guess I just get to continue being a tax collector-- I wonder where all the other 6.8% goes ???

0

NanCrisp 5 years, 1 month ago

There were 533 voters who cast ballots out of 2,895 registered voters. That’s a turnout of 20.41 percent and Douglas County Clerk Jamie Shew thought that was good.

Make that 18.41%. Those math word problems are a bear! Are you smarter than a 5th grader?

0

Peabody 5 years, 1 month ago

Nancy,

There were some advance ballots cast that you fail to account for in your 533 voters.

The total votes cast, counting the advance voting, was 589, which is 20.35% of the 2,895 registered voters. It is possible that at least a couple of voters voted for one issue, but not the other or, more likely, incorrectly marked their ballots so their votes were not counted on one of the initiatives.

Have you ever met Jamie Shew? Do you really think he can't do simple math? Please be sure of your facts before you attack a county official in such a public and irresponsible manner. It is not only embarrassing to you, but to other residents of Baldwin City.

Tony

0

NanCrisp 5 years, 1 month ago

Tony:

I am not faulting Mr. Shew. I am faulting the copy editor who reported, in print, that there were 533 votes out of 2895 registered voters for a voting percentage of 20.41. That is incorrect. A professional editor would catch that error.

0

NanCrisp 5 years, 1 month ago

And, Tony:

Perhaps you need to avoid embarrassing yourself by continually misinterpreting my comments on these blogs and having to be guided through the correct interpretation by either myself or other posters. Just saying.

0

Bloggerboo 5 years, 1 month ago

"I am not faulting Mr. Shew. I am faulting the copy editor who reported, in print, that there were 533 votes out of 2895 registered voters for a voting percentage of 20.41. That is incorrect. A professional editor would catch that error."

You didn't make that at all clear in your earlier post, hence the confusion. You are better served being more clear, and ultimately, less critical of others. You aren't helping anything other than your ego.

0

kermit 5 years, 1 month ago

Dear Nancy,

h-a-r-r-i-d-a-n

Sincerely, the amphibian

0

NanCrisp 5 years, 1 month ago

Kermit:

Your attempt to hide your penchant for name-calling behind your extensive vocabulary may fool others but does not escape me. So you may "shrew" yourself.

0

Peabody 5 years, 1 month ago

Nancy,

I apologize for jumping to the wrong conclusion, Nancy.

But for one who prides herself on clarity and precision, you were relatively vague in who you were blaming for the numerical error in your earlier post. The "you" in "Are you smarter than a 5th grader?" comment was so general, one might easily assume it was directed at the only person you mentioned in your post.

A basic principle of written communication is that misinterpretation is not the fault of the reader, but of the writer's lack of clarity. It is intellectually lazy to assert that readers misunderstand text because they are too ignorant to read the author's mind.

Write what you mean to say and be precise about it. This is a principle to which you appear to hold the Signal, but not yourself.

Tony

0

Commenting has been disabled for this item.