Voters to consider multiple proposals
From Staff Reports
Nov. 7, 2011 at 11 p.m.
Election officials are expecting a light turnout for today's elections, except where local referendums are on the ballot such as in Henderson, West Rusk County Consolidated ISD and Lone Star.
Statewide, voters will decide 10 proposals for amending the Texas Constitution, ranging from extending property tax breaks to widows and widowers of disabled veterans to giving county officers an additional 30 days to file to run for another office.
In counties such as Gregg, where the amendments are the only measures on the ballot, turnout was low through the early voting period that ended Friday, said Gregg County Elections Administrator Kathryn Nealy. She was expecting a low turnout today, as well.
"We have an amendment election every odd-numbered year, and we rarely have anything else with that," Nealy said, "which is why we have such a low voter turnout."
During the 2009 all-amendment election, fewer than 3,900 of the county's more than 68,000 registered voters - less than 6 percent - cast ballots.
This year, just less than 600 ballots had been cast when early voting ended Friday, Nealy said.
"I realize that a lot of people aren't aware that we have an amendment election, and there is not a certain amendment that is drawing interest. But, we still want people to know this is an important election," Nealy said.
Voter interest has been unusually high in Rusk County, meanwhile, where two school bond elections and city alcohol referendums are on the ballot, said Rusk County Elections Administrator Kathie Wittner.
Nearly 3,000 voters cast early election ballots in Henderson.
"This is a much larger turnout than normal for an election where there's not a major office on the ballot, but I think these two issues are very important to the people of Henderson," she said.
Two proposals relating to alcohol are on the ballot for Henderson:
One would allow the sale of beer and wine for off-premise consumption, which would let grocery and convenience stores sell beer and wine but would not permit packaged liquor sales. The second would allow the sale of alcohol in restaurants.
Henderson ISD voters also are considering a $26 million bond issue. The Henderson school board called the bond election in August to build a new Henderson Middle School. The current school was built in 1953 and houses sixth-, seventh-, and eighth-graders.
If approved, the bond would carry a 9.5 cent tax rate increase added to the district's rate of $1.18 per $100 valuation. The average homeowner living in an $89,000 home would pay about $48 more per year.
<strong>West Rusk CCISD bond</strong>
The West Rusk County Consolidated ISD school board is asking voters to consider a $14.9 million bond issue that would build a $2.9 million cafeteria, a $4 million football stadium and a $6.5 million multipurpose events center. It is the second bond election the district has called in 70 years.
The lunchroom serves all of the district's students and hasn't been renovated or expanded in decades, Superintendent Tommy Alexander has said. A year ago, the district was considering expanding the dining area, but Alexander said the "need is bigger and greater than that."
The new cafeteria plans call for it to seat 750 people while dining or 900 people in an assembly.
The new stadium would hold 1,500 Raider fans on the home side and 750 people on the visitor side. It also would have a new press box, restroom area, eight-lane track and scoreboard.
If approved, the tax rate increase would not exceed 24 cents. The district taxes for a home valued at $75,000 taxes are projected to increase by $108 annually, or $9 a month.
Voters will decide whether to create a new emergency services district in eastern Harrison County.
Lone Star voters will decide whether to increase the sales tax by one-half of 1 percent.
According to the ballot language, the revenue would be used for purposes "including but not limited to parks and park facilities, street paving, drainage, and related improvements, municipal buildings, including the development and maintenance of municipal and public facilities, tourism, libraries, open-space improvements, and the promotion and development of new or expanded business enterprises, including the maintenance and operating cost of any such projects mentioned above."
Voting will be at the Lone Star Volunteer Fire Department, 201 W. Industrial.