The vote in the Tax Ratification Election was 270-169, or 62 percent to 38 percent, in complete, but unofficial returns. Some 104 voters cast ballots before early voting ended the prior Tuesday, the school said.
The proposed tax hike from the current rate of $1.12 per $100 valuation to $1.25 required voter approval since it would have applied to the part of the tax rate for maintenance and operations. That portion of the tax rate would have risen from the current $1.04 to $1.17.
The election came 3 months after New Diana ISD voters overwhelmingly rejected a bond issue which would have triggered a much larger tax increase. However, despite losing by 101 votes in unofficial returns, the proposal on Saturday’s ballot received a much higher percentage of the vote than the bond issue proposed in a May 10 election.
School Superintendent Carl Key said Tuesday he was “disappointed” in the election outcome, and that the school will now reevaluate and “reassess current needs” as some new school board members will take office in November.
Meantime, said Key, the district will “see what the current climate is, come next spring” as the state legislature will consider school finance in the wake of a state district judge’s ruling that the current finance system is unconstitutional.
That ruling will “have some bearing,” Key said.
Key had said the proposed 13-cent hike was needed for two reasons: to give school employees a larger raise than included in the current budget, and to perform maintenance on aging facilities such as air conditioning units and the intermediate school, part of which is 60 years old.
He said the tax increase would enable every school employee except him to receive a 5 percent raise, rather than a 3 percent increase already guaranteed in the school budget. (Unlike most other area schools’ fiscal years, New Diana’s budget runs from July 1 through June 30.)
Key had said that in the wake of the bond issue’s loss, the public had expressed a desire for the school to take care of its employees and its existing facilities. The school board had called Saturday’s election in June.