Voters reject local option tax, ed reform

SANDPOINT — Bonner county voters struck down a proposed sales tax in addition to statewide balloted issues this Tuesday evening on Election Day.

The local option tax proposed by Ponderay and Sandpoint city officials, which would add a 0.5-percent sales tax to all goods and services within city limits, didn’t pass in either community. After all precincts reported in, the majority of Ponderay voters struck the measure down with 176 nays versus 126 yays.

According to Ponderay Mayor Carol Kunzeman, the entire point of the balloted issue was to gauge the public’s interest in building more revenue, so they’re happy with the outcome.

“I feel good,” Kunzeman said. “The most important thing is we offered up a plan to the people of Ponderay and let them decide.”

She added that even though the city doesn’t have any additional revenue streams to use, staff and officials are still planning some upcoming projects. Residents should check out upcoming Ponderay Community Development Corporation meetings to learn more, Kunzeman said.

In Sandpoint, the tax did achieve a majority of supportive votes with a final tally of 1,565 yeas to 1,432 nays. However, the local option tax required a 60-percent majority to pass, which based on this year’s turnout would have meant almost 1,800 votes. The balloted measure didn’t quite match that threshold.

“We were disappointed with the result, but overall, we’re happy that the issue is out there and people are discussing it,” Mayor Marsha Ogilvie said.

“I’m glad we got a majority,” added Councilwoman Carrie Logan, who put significant work into crafting the proposal. “I just wish it was a bigger majority.”

Voters also handily struck down education reform in Bonner County, following the statewide trends. Proposition 1 fell with 10,121 nays to 8,079 yays, Proposition 2 failed 10,208 to 8,062 and Proposition 3 lost 11,854 to 6,154. The final statewide tallies on these measures were 371,287 to 277,011 on Prop 1, 376,739 to 272,951 on Prop 2 and 432,730 to 215,905 on Prop 3.

According to Lake Pend Oreille School District Superintendent Shawn Woodward, that means changes are in store for district administration. In respect to contract negotiations with employees, administrators and board members must now discuss how to revert back to the old system. With the pay-for-performance bonus system struck down, Woodward also hopes some of that will revert back to the districts.

“We could use those funds in more of a discretionary way,” he said.

Finally, Woodward said the failure of Proposition 3 will allow the school district to define its own course in technological development.

“For us, we’re going to slow down a bit and utilize local control,” Woodward said.

District 1 Republican state legislative candidates had an easier time at the polls, with most running unopposed. Rep. Eric Anderson was the only one with a competitor, Democratic nominee Andrew Sorg, and he took the day with 10,460 votes versus Sorg’s 4,567. Meanwhile, Rep. George Eskridge earned 12,938 votes in an unopposed race. His priorities when he gets back into the Legislature are responsible spending, curbing tax increases, energy development, property tax examination and transportation maintenance, he said.

“I really appreciate the voters out there who supported me and hope I live up to their expectations,” Eskridge added.

Sen. Shawn Keough also earned herself another term with 13,438 votes.

“I am honored that voters have endorsed my service in the senate and am looking forward to another term,” she said.

Republicans also carried the day in District 7. The senate race saw Sheryl L. Nuxoll best independent Jon Cantamessa 1,572 to 780 in Bonner County votes. In the representative race, Republican Shannon McMillan beat Democrat Casey Drews 1,676 to 733, while Republican Paul E. Shepherd won with 1,664 votes over Democrat Nancy M. Lerandeau’s 739 votes.

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