Chimacum bond edges closer but fails to reach 60 percent approval

PORT TOWNSEND — A proposed $29.1 million construction bond measure for the Chimacum School District missed 60 percent approval by 44 votes Thursday after a third count of ballots.

The third count of votes received in Tuesday’s election showed 3,290 votes in favor, or 59.22 percent, to 2,266 votes, or 40.78 percent opposed.

After the announcement of the new totals, Chimacum Superintendent Rick Thompson said he hopes the measure will pass while acknowledging “we still have a bit of the uphill battle.”

‘Good result’

Despite the apparent loss, he called the vote “a good result.”

“There are a lot of people that expressed support of the bond,” Thompson said.

“I intend to work with the board and suggest the steps needed to move forward and solve this in the long term.”

Thompson said he plans to suggest future options at the next regular board meeting, scheduled at 6 p.m. May 11 in the high school library, 90 West Valley Road in Chimacum.

Forty-four is the number of “no” votes that, had they been “yes,” would have given the proposed bond its required 60

percent supermajority.

To reach 60 percent of a new total vote, 110 more votes of approval of the bond would need to be added to the present tally, said Betty Johnson, Jefferson County elections supervisor.

The most recent count reflects a change of 0.10 percentage points from Wednesday’s count of 3,244 votes in favor, or 59.12 percent, to 2,243 votes, or 40.88 percent opposed.

A fourth count of ballots in Tuesday’s special election will be done today, if enough come in, Johnson said.

The Auditor’s Office has on hand 65 challenged ballots from the Chimacum School District.

Ballots are challenged when they lack signatures or have other problems.

Challenged ballots can be corrected up to 4:30 p.m. this Thursday.

If 45 or more ballots come in the mail by this morning, then a fourth count will be done, Johnson said, because if all, including the challenged ballots, were in favor of the bond, they would equal 110 votes.

A provision for automatic recounts does not apply to local issues such as levies or bonds, Johnson said; it applies only to statewide ballot measures.

However, recounts can be requested up to two business days after the election is certified.

Those who request a recount pay 15 cents a ballot for a machine recount or 25 cents a ballot for a manual recount.

Recount decision

Thompson said the district hasn’t planned a strategy and has not decided whether to file a request for a recount by May 10.

Most of the bond money, $19.8 million, would have paid for an expansion of Chimacum Creek Primary School, which was built in 1999.

The kindergarten-through-third-grade school would have been expanded into a full kindergarten-through-fifth-grade elementary school.

The rest of the money would have been used for upgrades at the main campus, while the current elementary school, a 1948 building in disrepair, would have been demolished.

The measure proposed a property tax levy rate of $1.21 per $1,000 assessed property value. It would have been expected to be required for 20 years to finance the bond.

The annual property tax for a $150,000 property would have increased by $181.50, district officials have said.

This was the second apparent defeat for the $29.1 million construction bond to be used for new elementary school construction and capital improvements.

A $34.8 million bond question was defeated in February 2015, getting a slim majority but falling short of the required 60 percent supermajority.

After obtaining public input through several public meetings, the school district scaled down the proposal and asked voters to approve a $29.1 million bond Feb. 6.

That received 58.04 percent approval.

The proposal was unchanged in Tuesday’s third attempt to use the momentum gained during the February try.

Quilcene levy

An emergency medical services levy for the Quilcene Fire Department, which also was on Tuesday’s ballot, has been approved by more than 74 percent of the vote.

The six-year levy won by 607 votes, or 74.85 percent, to 204 votes, or 25.15 percent, after Thursday’s count.

As a first-time levy, it required 60 percent voter approval, while a renewal will need only 50 percent.

________

Jefferson County Editor Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or cbermant@peninsuladailynews.com.

Executive Editor Leah Leach contributed to this report.

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