Bond Issue defeated by less than one percent of vote

Published 5:10 pm Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The Pearl River County School District $10.5 million bond issue was defeated Tuesday by less than one percent of the vote, after all votes, including absentees and affidavits, were counted.

The bond issue needed at least 60 percent of the vote to pass, District Superintendent Dennis Penton said. The unofficial vote count was 59.09 percent in favor of the bond issue, 40.91 percent against.

The school district’s architect, Gary Bailey of Bailey Architecture, was at the courthouse Tuesday night with Penton as the votes came in.

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“We needed 10 more votes for the issue to pass,” Bailey said after the votes were counted.

Penton said Tuesday night that he would ask for a recount of the votes, and is expected to make a formal request Wednesday.

“It’s frustrating to come this close and not get it (passed),” Penton said.

Election officials said Tuesday night that if Penton requests a recount, the votes will be recounted by hand sometime this week.

Penton and the school board members had proposed the bond to help pay for a new elementary school, which was to be put in the Salem area. The new school is needed, Penton said, because of overcrowding issues throughout the school district. There are currently 1,747 students in grades K-6 in the school district.

Penton said the reason for a special election for the bond issue instead of putting the issue on the ballot in a general election was two-fold.

“A lot of times, the (bond) issue will get lost in a general election, because not everyone in the county would vote on the bond issue. It’s also easier to keep track of the people voting on a bond issue if that’s the only issue on the ballot. It’s clearer for the poll workers and for the voters who are supposed to vote,” Penton said.

Any registered voter living in the PRC school district was eligible to vote in Tuesday’s election. If it had passed, the bond would have cost the average taxpayer who owns a $100,000 home a total increase in taxes of about $58.

A total of 13 precincts were included in Tuesday’s vote, with a total of 1,073 votes cast. There were 634 votes cast in favor of the issue, and 439 votes against.

In Derby Beat 1, 15 votes were cast, nine votes for and six against.

In Picayune Beat 1 Eastside Annex, four votes were cast against.

In Mill Creek Beat 2, 102 votes were cast, 28 in favor and 74 against.

In Ozona Beat 3, 66 votes were cast, 42 in favor and 24 against.

In Caesar Beat 3, 96 votes were cast, 65 in favor and 31 against.

In McNeill Beat 3, 120 votes were cast, 58 in favor and 62 against.

In Pine Grove Beat 4, two votes were cast against.

In Salem Beat 4, 217 votes were cast, 184 in favor and 33 against.

In McNeill Beat 5, 38 votes were cast, 20 in favor and 18 against.

In Carriere Beat 5, 113 votes were cast, 47 in favor and 66 against.

In Sycamore Beat 5, 42 votes were cast, 29 in favor and 13 against.

In Anchor Lake/West Union Beat 5, 140 votes were cast, 88 in favor and 52 against.

In Hide-A-Way/North Hill Beat 5, 118 votes were cast, 64 in favor and 54 against.