Ames voters defeat sales tax again

For the second time this year, Story County residents voted down the 1 percent sales-tax increase, sending Ames and Nevada school officials back to the drawing board.

Fifty-five percent of Story County voters decided against the proposed increase Tuesday, while 45 percent supported it. The tax increase would have pushed the sales tax in Story County from 6 cents to 7 cents per dollar spent.

Of the nearly 13,000 residents who hit the polls to cast their votes, 5,800 voters were in favor of the sales-tax increase, while 7,099 voted against it. On Feb. 15, the tax failed by 38 votes.

The revenue would have been used to construct a new high school in Ames on Mortensen Road and to renovate other schools within the county. Ames School District Superintendent Nick Johns said the vote dampens the future of the new high school.

“Any time that you identify a need for kids, and we don’t respond to it, it’s disappointing,” Johns said Tuesday night after the polls closed at 8 p.m.

Johns said the Ames school board will discuss how to proceed at its next meeting.

“We’re going to have to stand back and look at what seems to work and what doesn’t,” he said. “The need doesn’t go away.”

Since the proposed increase was voted down, Ames and other Story County school district personnel may have to rely on bond referendums to fund renovations to school facilities. However, Johns cannot say at this time whether the boards would seek a bond referendum, which would raise property taxes and consequently, Ames rent rates.

Some ISU students said they should not have to pay for the Ames schools.

“I don’t think this is the best way to do it,” said Kate Bjorlo, freshman in psychology. “I think there are better ways to fund and support our schools.”

Ames resident Jeanine Strodtman, who ran the polling booth in the Wallace-Wilson commons, said the Towers voting location drew more students than usual, even though only 4 percent of the registered voters in that precinct turned out.

“We’ve had a pretty good voter turnout for this precinct, and we’ve had a lot of students register to vote today,” she said.

Although the proposal would have cost students only one more cent on the dollar, the extra money spent out of pocket adds up, said Scott Knight, junior in political science.

“A penny doesn’t seem like a lot, but students are probably on a limited budget already,” he said, “especially if they come from out-of-state and are paying $18,000 a year.”