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Tax Hike Elections

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4 districts eye tax approval Saturday

The Ellis County Press

ELLIS COUNTY – Four local school districts will ask voters Saturday for permission to adjust their tax rates.

Voting begins at 7 a.m. until polls close at 7 p.m.

Red Oak, Italy, Palmer and Avalon are each seeking voter approval to adjust their tax rates; Red Oak won’t see a tax increase, but the three smaller districts are each seeking 13-cent tax hikes.

If approved, Italy, Palmer and Avalon’s tax rates would jump to $1.17 per $100 of property valuation, the maximum that can be enacted.

The state Legislature passed a law two years ago requiring voter approval for tax increases while enacting a sweeping 33 percent tax cut to help alleviate higher property taxes.

Palmer ISD superintendent Alan Oakley said a vote for the 13-cent tax increase could not come at a wrong time given the financial condition of the nation, but did say a "yes" vote Saturday would be for the future of his district.

"I certainly agree that America is witnessing a tremendous lack of confidence in the financial affairs of this country," said Oakley, a former Milford ISD superintendent and ex-police officer. "No one can deny the financial hardships that this crisis has produced.

"On the other hand, the voters of the [PISD] have, by legislative action, been given an opportunity to support a measure that, in my opinion, may well be the most important vote in the history of this school district. School districts throughout the state are in financial distress. The reasons are at best, complicated and this is not the venue for that discussion."

Oakley said in a three-page editorial PISD has no other ability to raise funds except through voter-approved bond elections and state aid based on increased enrollment figures.

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