AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — During Tuesday’s election, residents throughout the Texas Panhandle and surrounding areas made decisions on various races impacting their communities in different ways.
Over the last few weeks, the MyHighPlains.com team has followed a number of races featured on the November ballot. Here are some updates from some of those races after Tuesday evening’s results:
City of Amarillo Proposition A
After a year of preparation and discussion with community members, the city of Amarillo’s tax-related proposition failed Tuesday evening, with 55.3% of city residents voting against the measure.
According to previous reports from MyHighPlains.com, the election was triggered after the Amarillo City Council approved a tax rate higher than the voter approval tax rate. In August, the extra funds from the revenue would have gone to items like parks upgrades, additional equipment for first responders, additional police department personnel as well as increases in pay for various groups of individuals.
Amarillo City Manager Jared Miller said the initial rate on the ballot came out of conversations with city officials and community members, through various Community Solutions meetings on parks and on public safety.
But after the measure was unsuccessful, Miller said that city officials understand.
“Anytime you are asking for a tax increase, it’s something that people are going to really want to think twice about and be very careful as they go through it,” he said.
With the vote failing, the city of Amarillo’s tax rate for the 2021-22 fiscal year is now the voter approval tax rate of $0.44334, a figure which is still higher than the city’s rate of $0.39681 for the 2020-21 fiscal year. Miller said the city is going to do everything it can to steward the resources they are given through this rate.
Without the additional funds from the increased rate, Miller said it will be “a big shot in the arm for the parks program,” in regards to improvements. Other things, including additional police department personnel, as well as components from the city’s meet and confer agreement with the Amarillo Police Officers’ Association, will not occur after the proposition did not pass.
As the city plans on beginning the budget process for the next cycle in the early part of 2022, Miller said conversations will occur about how the items the city needs can be funded without the increased tax rate.
“As soon as we get into the budget process next year, that’s going to be conversation number one, and number three, and number five, 10. We are going to talk about it frequently throughout the entire budget process and as we prepare for that process,” he said. “We can always evaluate how we spend our money now. The things that we spend our money on are things that our council and our community have placed a great value on, so our ability to reduce spending in those areas is limited or comes at a great cost.”
When asked if the city wished they approached the election every differently, Miller questioned if the tax increase was too much of an ask for Amarillo voters.
“I think everybody knew, as we went through the budget process, that the tax rate increase request was substantial. It was large,” Miller said. “We did talk about ‘is it too much?’ The strength of the conversations and the strength of the input from the citizens at the community solutions meetings really prompted council, I believe, to really want to take a meaningful swing at enhancing services in areas that people had said… these are the things we think are important.”
City of Shamrock Community Center Bond
After a fire in February 2020 impacted the city of Shamrock’s community center, residents of the city voted against a $2.59 million bond consisting of funds to rebuild the facility.
According to election results, 75.4% of residents voted against the bond proposal, which would have increased the city’s tax rate by 25 cents if it was passed. The project would have included a large banquet room and other breakout rooms, while also hosting the City Hall offices.
Now with the measure not passing, city officials previously told MyHighPlains.com that the city has $2.2 million in insurance money from the 2020 fire. Prior to the election, Troy Potts, the city manager for the city of Shamrock, said there was not a plan in place if the measure did not pass.
“This is the design we are promoting at this time and, you know, if it doesn’t pass, then, all we’ll have is the insurance funds and we’ll have to come up with a different plan, probably a smaller building,” Potts said at the time.
Pampa Independent School District Voter-Approval Tax Rate Measure
Pampa ISD residents voted in favor of the district moving two cents from the interest and sinking portion of the district’s tax rate to the maintenance and operations portion, giving the district the ability to receive an additional $600,000 from the state in funding.
According to election results, 60.1% of residents voted in favor of the measure. According to previous reports by MyHighPlains.com, this opportunity came to the district after officials made the decision to refund their debt at a lower interest rate in February, saving the district approximately $3 million.
With the increase in funds from the state, Hugh Piatt, the superintendent at Pampa ISD, previously said those funds could be used for other school necessities, including upgrading the district’s facilities as well as staying competitive in the district’s compensation plan compared to other area districts.
Future use of the funds could also go towards compensation for other staff members, including bus drivers and substitutes, increase the district’s technology access as well as maintenance of the district’s facilities.
Sanford-Fritch ISD Bond
With a $5 million bond decided by a total of 40 votes, the majority of residents of Sanford-Fritch ISD voted against the bond during Tuesday’s election. According to election results, 67.5% of participants voted against the measure, which would have required a maximum increase of 12 additional cents to the interest and sinking portion of the district’s tax rate.
According to previous reports by MyHighPlains.com, the district would have funded various improvements to the district’s elementary school, junior high and high school. The improvements included in the bond ranged from adding a security door to the junior high, remodeling the high school gym as well as replacing the windows at the elementary campus.
Jason Garrison, the superintendent for Sanford-Fritch ISD, previously told MyHighPlains.com that if the bond did not pass, the various projects would have to be prioritized, especially the projects at the district’s elementary campus.
“We want the best facility we can provide for our kids to keep them safe. We feel like that this is important, or we wouldn’t have even called a bond,” Garrison previously said.
Eastern New Mexico School District Bonds and Tax Measures
Numerous districts throughout the Eastern New Mexico region hosted bond elections for various district improvements Tuesday.
According to election results, 73.9% of residents voted in favor of the bond in the Des Moines Municipal Schools District. According to previous reports, this $2.1 million bond will help the district move all its grade levels into a single building, providing savings in maintenance costs.
According to the election results, 80.4% of residents voted in favor of the $3.5 million bond in the Dora Consolidated Schools district. This bond was made possible by the addition of the Sagamore Wind Farm project in Roosevelt County, operated by Xcel Energy, adding new HVAC systems across the district as well as putting a coating over the existing roof.
Numerous districts within New Mexico also had a measure related to a school capital improvement tax on November’s election ballot. This measure impacted the various districts’ funding formula, allowing respective districts to fund maintenance and repairs.
The following districts passed the capital improvement tax:
- Portales Municipal Schools;
- Dora Municipal Schools;
- Elda Municipal Schools;
- House Municipal Schools; Logan Municipal Schools;
- Melrose Municipal Schools;
- Grady Municipal Schools;
- Des Moines Municipal Schools;
- Clayton Municipal Schools;
- Springer Municipal Schools.
Voters from the San Jon Municipal School district did not pass the capital improvement tax.
City of Clovis Economic Development-related measure
With the passage of an economic development-related measure, the city of Clovis will be able to provide funding from gross receipts taxes to both new and existing retail establishments.
During Tuesday’s election, 73.2% of residents voted in favor of the measure, according to election results. City of Clovis Mayor Mike Morris previously said that this would bring a new opportunity to the city.
“This is a big opportunity for the voters in Clovis,” he said prior to the election. “This is a chance to be a part of something really big and a shift in what our retail sector is going to look like, what our retail offering is going to look like. It’s going to have an impact on the health and growth of our local economy in the years to come.”
For more election coverage for other communities throughout the Texas Panhandle from Tuesday evening, visit MyHighPlains.com.