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

A proposal by the City of Chillicothe to add one-fourth cent to the city’s sales tax to help with the funding of the community’s police department passed decisively Tuesday, June 2, 2020, but voters in the Chillicothe R-II School District – historically tough to convince to increase their property taxes to help 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 Board of Education, to be joined by newcomer Kathy Gilliland on the seven-person panel.

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, said 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 tax will bring an additional $420,000 - $430,000 in an average year to the police department.

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.

Superintendent Dan Wiebers just completed his first school year as superintendent in Chillicothe, offered thanks for the community support.

“On behalf of the students, staff, and administration of the Chillicothe R-II School District, I would like to thank the school community who supported the district levy request. I appreciate the support of those who attended informational meetings, followed the Invest in Our Future Facebook page, and those who encouraged family and friends to support the students of the district,” he said.

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.“

Wednesday morning, Wiebers reacted to the measure being defeated.

“I was disappointed with the results of last night’s election. Recent withholdings from the state of Missouri, the need for additional expenditures for protection of students and staff in regards to COVID-19, and an already tight budget will leave the district no choice but to make difficult decisions for the 2020-2021 school year,” he said.

The passage of the $ 0.68 per $100 valuation would heave meant an additional $935,000 for the district, a 4.2 percent increase in revenue funds.

“Recommendations of possible cuts will be brought to the Chillicothe R-II Board of Education on Tuesday, June 16. Those recommendations will be included in the budget which will be presented to the Board of Education on Monday, June 29. Every attempt will be made to protect the educational offerings for the students of the district, but unfortunately, the decline in school funds will require the district to make difficult decisions that will affect administrators, teachers, non-certified staff, and students,” Wiebers said.

In the four-candidates race for three available positions on the Chillicothe R-II School 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 and current Board President 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 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 four-candidates race. 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.

Voters in an around Hale could vote for three school board candidates as well for the Hale R-I Board of Education, Chauncey K. Ponting and Buddy Singer claimed two seats with seven votes each and the final seat went to Dan Moss with five votes. Kevin Miller received four votes.

In the race for three seats on the Reorganized Grundy County R-IV School District, Livingston County three votes were cast electing Brandon Gibler, Andy Burress and Doug Franklin with one vote each.

Benny Simpson was elected to the Chula Northward Alderman seat for two yeast with 11 votes, a write-n candidate had one vote.

For the Chula North Ward one year term there were two write-in votes cast but no names were available as of Wednesday morning. Three write-in votes were also cast for the two-year seat on Chula’s South Ward but no names were available. There were no votes for the one-year term for the Chula South Ward seat.

Twenty-two write-in votes were placed for the Village of Utica Board of Trustees, however, names are available.