Four Boone County ballot issues passed by wide margins in Tuesday night's election.
More than 7,100 people voted for a $50 million bond for Columbia Public Schools, a 63.5 percent margin. The bond will increase the district's debt levy by 4 cents, meaning the average homeowner will pay an additional $12 a year in property taxes. The money will go toward building a replacement for Cedar Ridge Elementary School and expanding other elementary schools so the district can reduce its use of trailers for classrooms. It will also fund renovations at Douglass High School and Rock Bridge High School's stadium.
Superintendent Chris Belcher said he was pleased with the community's attitude toward the school system's needs. He said during his campaign in support of the bond in the months leading up to the vote, he sensed people understood the need for the bond and felt good about it. Belcher spent Tuesday evening watching the returns with his planned successor, Dr. Peter Stiepleman.
"The gift I want to give him, is to have this 10 year facility plan over the hump to where, from here on out, there will not be another tax increase necessary to continue the 10 year facility plan," Belcher said.
Also winning voter approval Tuesday night was a $14 million bond for the Boone County Fire Protection District. Nearly 72 percent of voters cast their ballots in favor of the issue, which will pay for the replacement of equipment dating as far back as the early 1980s and the replacement of Station 13. Mold problems prevent firefighters from living at that station. Chief Scott Olsen said the district decided not to renew an existing bond six years ago due to economic issues and trust issues with the department.
"We have taken care of those issues, we believe the economy i starting to turn around, so it's very important that we get this accomplished now," he said.
Meanwhile, Harrisburg voters backed a $2 million bond by a nearly 3/4 majority. That measure will pay for new security cameras and electrical infrastructure upgrades and finish WiFi installation. Rounding out the ballot issues in Boone County was a tax increase for the Centralia Public Library. Sixty-five percent of voters agreed to raise the district's property tax from 25 to 55 cents per $100 of assessed valuation.