City sales tax to help fund PD passes handily. Chillicothe school district operating tax levy falls far short. Gilliland, Horsman, Walker get school board seats
By PAUL STURM, C-T Staff Writer
CHILLICOTHE, Mo. — A proposal by the City of Chillicothe to add one-fourth cent to the city’s sales tax to help with funding of the community’s police department decisively Tuesday, June 2, 2020, but voters in the Chillicothe R-2 School District – historically tough to convince to increase their property taxes to held fund operations of the district – held true to form, rejecting by a 55-45 percent margin a request from the district’s board to boost the district’s operating levy by 68 cents per $100 assessed valuation.
In other fully-in-county, contested votes in the election which was postponed from April, due to concerns about and precautionary measures taken to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, Brice Walker and Lauren Horsman were reelected to 3-years terms on the Chillicothe school board, to be joined by newcomer Kathy Gilliland on the 7-persons panel.
In the Livingston R-3 School District in the Chula area of northeast Livingston County, Dan Murphy, Diana Holcer, and Larissa Regan prevailed for the three board seats to be filled by the 4-candidates race.
Livingston County ballots also were cast in several other contested school board races, but those elections also include voters from neighboring counties, so final totals were not quickly available Tuesday evening.
Chillicothe voters supported the sales tax boost targeted to fund police personnel, training, equipment, and facilities by a wide 60-40 percent spread (716 votes in favor to 471 against). It carried solidly in all four wards, as well as among absentee voters.
“We are ecstatic about the results,” Theresa Kelly, mayor and former long-time city auditor, reacted once passage was confirmed. “We have been pushing for this for a long time. It’s so much in need.”
Jon Maples, chief of police, told the C-T in a visit on the north lawn of the county courthouse in downtown Chillicothe, “The impact this will have on the department is tremendous.”
“It’s going to help the training, equipment, and retention of our staff. We have a great ‘team,’ so this just really boosts the morale and gets us the equipment and training that we need to better serve this community.”
The Chillicothe school district, which had proposed an operating levy increase and seen it turned down two years ago, saw its latest proposal sustain a similar fate.
Tuesday’s measure, which also included language that would have balanced out the 2023 expiration of 13 cents of the operating levy with an equal 13-cents of levy to take effect at the time of that expiration, would have pushed the district’s operating levy to $4.43 per $100 of property valuation, but only 790 voters supported it on their ballots, while 994 said “No.”
Dan Wiebers, just completing his first year as district superintendent. opted not to comment for this story in the immediate aftermath of the official disclosure of the results Tuesday. He said he would offer his reaction Wednesday.
In the 4-candidates race for three available positions on the R-2 district’s Board of Education, holdover member Walker received the highest vote total with 1,334 out of 1,796 cast within the district boundaries. Next highest was incoming member Gilliland with 1,264. Incumbent Horsman was next with 1,175, capturing the last available seat. Falling short in his bid to become a Chillicothe school board member was Kelly Sykes. He received 836 votes. Each voter had the opportunity to vote for three candidates, but could vote for fewer than three.
In the Livingston R-3 School District vote in and around Chula, Murphy’s total of 51 (out of 56 total ballots cast in the district) was tops, with Regan at 46 and Holcer at 42. Fourth was Amanda Dowell with 15. The R-3 district operates an elementary school only.