People who didn't want to pay more taxes in Woodford County prevailed over those who wanted a new high school.
Voters on Tuesday rejected a 5.5 cent school facilities tax needed to replace Woodford County's 54-year-old high school building with a new one.
A total of 3,758 voted against the tax while 3,442 people voted for it, according to Woodford County Deputy Clerk Earl Littrell.
"This is a high turnout. It looks like its close to 30 percent," Woodford County Clerk Sandy Jones said Tuesday night. The county has 20,800 registered voters, according to the clerk's office.
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In January, the Woodford school board voted to approve a tax levy of 71.9 cents per $100 on real property and personal property with the additional 5.5 cents to be restricted money to be used for construction or renovation.
Opponents of the tax — led by former Woodford County Schools superintendent Paul Stahler — got enough signatures on a recall petition to send the issue to a vote.
"When we started this process ... the people that got together wanted the voters to decide whether the tax went through or not and that's what happened," Stahler said Tuesday night. "That was our goal and we feel good about that."
Both sides launched intense campaigns marked by sometimes angry words on social media.
Woodford County Public Schools officials, including Superintendent Scott Hawkins, favored the tax increase. The district website and a Facebook page called "I Support our Schools" featured numerous photos of children holding up signs saying, "I'm worth it.”
On Tuesday night Hawkins said proponents had worked hard on the campaign. He thanked volunteers for their level of support.
“We tried to present a compelling message for the need. Obviously it wasn’t the outcome that we had hoped for. But we will continue to work to do great things for the students of Woodford County,” he said.
Pro-forces said a new high school to replace the one built in 1964 would bring new opportunities in academics, arts and athletics, with new science and engineering labs, and an auditorium/theater.
“Without additional revenue there is no path to a new high school, not in the foreseeable future,” Hawkins said Tuesday night.
Hawkins has said if the facilities tax did not pass, it would be another 12 years before a new high school could be considered.
“That’s kind of where we are,” he said after the referendum was decided.
An example of the impact on Woodford property owners, according to Hawkins, was that if a home is valued at $150,000, the increase on the tax bill would have been $82.50 or $6.88 per month.
Stahler had said opponents of the tax thought it was excessive and he was concerned about the school district taking on debt.
The voting on Tuesday did encounter one snag.