Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Tax to replace high school fails by 4.4 percentage points; Midway area votes narrowly in favor of it

By Sarah Ladd
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Media

Woodford County voters decided Tuesday not to approve the proposed 5.5-cents-per-$100 property tax for building a new county high school in Versailles. The tax failed by 52.2 percent to 47.8 percent, with 3,758 votes against it and 3,442 for it.

Voters in the Midway city precinct favored the tax 235 to 162 but opponents carried the rural Midway precinct, 134 to 84. The combined vote of the two precincts was 319 to 296.

Interested voters waited for election results at the county clerk's
office in Versailles Tuesday evening. (Photo by Sarah Ladd)
The referendum came after a heated campaign that “divided the community immensely,” the Lexington Herald-Leader reported. Those voting for the tax felt they were looking after the future of the county’s children, while the opposition felt that the school’s contingency funds should be used to lessen or eliminate the tax increase.

A voter at Northside Elementary School in Midway, who identified herself only as a local farmer, citing the controversy, said she felt like her hands were tied with the proposed tax and was certain it would pass. “They should have come up with a better plan,” she said. The thought of “being forced to pay more taxes” was “irritating” to her, she said, adding that she already pays too many.

Deborah Wheat of Midway said she was against the tax because “the high school they have is fine” and because she did not want her taxes to increase.

Midway Mayor Grayson Vandegrift said he was surprised and disappointed at the outcome. "But the democratic process played out, and we all have to respect that," he said. "I am worried about future economic development prospects being hindered because their workforce is heavily tied to the school system. But," he added, "I’ve never known determined Woodford Countians to give up on a cause they believe in, and I’m positive that all possible solutions available to us will be pursued in the coming years."

Efforts by the school board to promote absentee voting in the election paid off, but not enough; the absentee ballots went 291 for the tax and 222 against.

Ambrose Wilson IV of Midway, who chairs the school board, could not be reached for comment on the results. He predicted last week that the tax would pass.

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