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Written by Brenda Johnson Brandt   

Election Day nears.

While campaigning and promoting have seemingly been in the headlines forever, the end is now in sight.

The civic duty of all registered voters is clear. Cast your ballot.

Ballots in Phillips County have been mailed to those requesting permanent mail ballot delivery. Early voting by machine or paper can be accomplished at the county clerk’s office between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. And the polls will be open for voting on Election Day Tuesday, Nov. 2. Each registered voter should use one of these voting routes.

Applications for absentee ballots must be returned to the county clerk by Wednesday, Oct. 27 if the ballot is to be mailed to the voter. If the absentee ballot is requested in person, the application can be taken to the county clerk’s office through Friday, Oct. 29.

College students should especially take note of the absentee ballot provision and make their voice heard through their voting rights. The clerk’s office is extremely helpful in following procedures so ballots can be obtained.

Becoming informed on candidates and ballot issues is a responsibility of each voter. Don’t take that lightly as you become educated on the issues in question.


Yes on School Issue 3B

In Holyoke School District Re-1J, a mill levy override question has been put on the ballot as Question 3B.

State reduction of school funding is driving the increase of local responsibility to fund our schools.

I have listened. I have studied. And I believe the need is evident for our support of a 7.5 mill levy increase. After five years, the override will reduce to 4.5 mills and after 10 years it will go away completely without another vote of the people.

With a $103,000 rescission in state funding last school year and reduction of state per-pupil funding to the tune of about $250,000 for Holyoke School Dist. this year, I believe the proposed solution in 3B is a good one.

7.5 mills is estimated to generate about $340,000 in 2011 if 3B passes. The proposal designates $205,000 to address capital needs, including upgraded science classrooms, heating, cooling, roofs, doors and other life-safety upgrades.

Technology will be the focus of $50,000 of the revenue from the passage of 3B. This investment in technology infrastructure will make it possible to add new technology in the classroom and give students access similar to other school districts.

The remaining $85,000 of revenue from the 7.5 mill increase will be designated for restoring dwindling supply line items and to address personnel issues which include the number of teaching positions and the ability to recruit and retain quality teachers.

Estimated costs have been determined for the impact of this 7.5 mill increase.

In general, the increase will cost about $4.98 per month on a $100,000 home, $18.13 per month on a $100,000 business, 47 cents per year per acre on irrigated farm ground, 21 cents per year per acre on dryland farm ground and 7 cents per year per acre on grass/pasture.

Perhaps the simplest assessment is to look at an approximate seven percent increase on your previous year’s tax bill.

Yes, this is a property tax increase. Each voter needs to determine if the school district needs the revenue to maintain the type of school the community expects, if the solution is logical and if the personal tax impact is something that can be afforded.

I believe it is truly time to quit asking which cuts will hurt the least and start asking ourselves what it takes to have the school we want for our students.

Do I agree with every decision ever made by the Holyoke School District? No. Will I agree with all future decisions? Probably not.

But I do have confidence in our leaders on the district budget and facilities committee from the community, as well as paid staff, to accurately portray the status of the district.

I appreciate the extended effort of the superintendent and school board to communicate with the public and to be transparent with their actions regarding school finances and decisions.

I believe 3B is important, not only for our school district, but for our whole community. It gets my “yes” vote.


No on 60, 61, 101

A decrease in personal taxes is not necessarily the answer to finance woes.

Extreme concern has been expressed by virtually all local entities, as well as many statewide groups, for the potential repercussions if Amendments 60 and 61, as well as Proposition 101 should pass on the statewide ballot.

Our local hospital board, city council, school board and board of county commissioners have all passed resolutions in opposition to 60, 61 and 101.

They have studied the proposals and are quite concerned about the impact on our local government entities.

Projected impacts are vast and extremely damaging to our local government. I will vote “no” on all three.