USD-418 bond issue, sales tax question defeated

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By Anne Hassler Heidel

McPherson News-Ledger

 

McPHERSON—The timing wasn’t right. The price tag was too large. The location was too congested. No swimming pool. Whatever the reason, the $112 million bond question put forth by USD-418 was met with a solid no by voters Tuesday night.

The lack of clarity was also felt by district administrators. USD-418 Superintendent Shiloh Vincent said it wasn’t just one clear-cut reason he had heard for people voting against the bond during the community meetings the district hosted.

“Responses have been varied, so that makes it tougher to know what needs addressed,” Vincent said while awaiting the final vote count at the McPherson County Courthouse on Tuesday evening. One thing, though, is clear: the district still needs to address its aging facilities.

Tracey Wedel, an outspoken critic of the bond measure, said the timing following the COVID-19 outbreak felt wrong. She would prefer the district focus more on people—kids and teachers—than on facilities.

“Over the last three or four years, we have lost a lot of very valuable teachers. Ones that can never be replaced,” Wedel, a former district employee, said. 

Wedel, who lives near McPherson High School, said she was also concerned about how the proposed construction and traffic flow would impact her property value.

So what’s next for the district? Vincent said more community input will be sought as district leadership charts a future course.

“The needs haven’t gone away. We know what those are. We just need to focus in on what the community would like to see addressed and what they are willing to support,” Vincent said.

Unofficial vote tallies from Tuesday are:

 

USD-418 Bond question

Yes: 1,179

No: 2,487

 

City of McPherson/USD-418 sales tax question

Yes: 1,101

No: 2,132

 

The ballots will be canvassed on Monday, June 14, including 76 provisional ballots. Voter turnout was high for a special election, with nearly 3,700 votes cast, according to McPherson County Clerk Hollie Melroy.