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Voters Say No To School Taxes

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The taxpayers of the Ann Arbor and Washtenaw Intermedíate School Districts left little doubt on their feelings about a tax increase yesterday as tbey emphatically trounced a íive-part bonding issue and two millage propositions - most by l.irge margins. In Ann Arbor, the defeat of a 3.10-mill proposition for operations will undoubtedly mean 'significant program j tions and a reduction in staff," i School Supt. W. Scott Westerman Jr. said last night. He said be would present alternative courses of action to the school board at its meeting tomorrow. About 23,000 voters - 18,590 of them from the Ann Arbor School District - turned out in warm and sunny weather to defeat the issues. Even a question on the ballot which would have benefited most of the Ann Arbor voters and spread the taxes more evenly went down by almost 3,000 votes. This was a proposition which would have made the residents of the former Rraun, Frains Lake and Superior Townline districts, which were. annexed to the Ann Arbor School District in 1966, liable to taxation for that amount of the bonded indebtedness of the district at the time of the annexations. As a result of the ironie defeat of that question, the rest of the Ann Arbor School District will have to pay the share of those three districts (about $16,000 worth this year) until the issue is put on the ballot again next year. A one-mill proposition of the Intermedíate School District which would have funded a Cüunty-wide vocational education facility lost by about 1,200 votes. It passed in Ann Arbor by a 774-vote margin (9,219 to 8,445), but was defeated in the out-county districts by a 2-1 margin - - 2,312 in favor, 4,297 against. A bonding proposal which would have allowed the building of the vocational facility also was defeated by about 400 votes in Ann Arbor and by more than 2,000 votes out-county. The funds to repay the honds would have come from the one mili. An identical one-mill proposition for a vocational school also was turned down by the voters in December of 1968. A 3.10-mill levy for operations of the Ann Arbor Public Schools was rejected by nearly i,000 votes - 7,343 in favor of the tax hike, 10,277 against (all tallies are unofficial). The millage defeat is the first for the Ann Arbor schools since 1967. In June of 1968 and 1969, respectively, millage issues of 11.66 milis and 6.67 milis were approved by the voters. The votes of the property and non-property owners on all five of the bonding propositions were kept separate, because of an upcoming U.S. Supreme Court decisión on whether only property owners may vote on bonding issues. On each of the five issues, the non-property owners passed them, while the property owners overwhelmingly rejected them. The vote of the property owners was substantially higher than non-property owners, however, thus wiping out the "yes" votes. Proposition I, which asked for $9,560,000 for the building and renovations of elementary schools, received 8,817 "no" votes, and 5,747 "yes" votes from the property owners - a defeat of 3,070 votes. On that same issue, the non-property owners voted 2,293 to 843 to approve it. Proposition II, which asked 'for $3,190,000 for the building of a sixth junior high and other junior high renovations, was defealed by the property owners by 3,187 votes - 8,799 in favor, 5:612 against. The nonproperty owners voted t o approve the juniorJiigh issue by 1,392 votes - 2,261 in favor, 869 against. Proposition III, which asked for $15,800,000 for a third senior high school, lost by more than 4,000 votes in the property owners' tslly - 5,206 in favor, 9,328 against. The non-property owners once again voted to approve this issue - 2,091 in favor, 1,028 against. Proposition IV, which would have paid for a $900,000 addition to the main Public Library, lost by 3,049 property owners' votes - 5,719 in favor, 8,768 against. Non-property owners approved the library addition by a vote of 2,339 to 785. Proposition V, which asked for $830,000 for a service facility, received the worst drubbing f rom property owners. It was defealed by them by a 3-to-l margin - 3,794 in favor, 10,412 against. The non-property owners again approved this issue, but by a smaller number of votes than they approved other issues - 1,807 in favor, 1,200 against. School Supt. W. Scott Westerman Jr. expressed disappointment at the across-the-board defeats, but he said the size of the margins of defeat "makes it emphatic. The nature of the mandate is clear." He did not specifically detail what actions the school board might take as a result of the defeats, but did predict "significant program alternations and a reduction in staff." Westerman said there is still a possibility of re-scheduling another millage election for the week of Aug. 24, but reiterated that that part of the millage which affected staff would not be included. He has said that date would be too late to try to hire new staff. Another bonding election could not be held for six months unless the issues on the ballot are "significantly different" from those defeated yesterday. Trustee Richard M. Wood, who was at "election central" last night at the school board nííices when the outcome of the election became obvious, called the millage and bonding defeats 'a great misfortune for the school system." ''Even though times are tough," he said, "I am disappointed that the citizens of Ann Arbor would elect to cut funds Jor public education.'' Trustee Cecil W. Warner said the will of the people is "very clear. I'm not a bit confused on that." He said he would not support a comeback election in August, but said the board must now live within the money it has. Talking about the bonding defeat, Warner said last night the trustees must now consider seriously some kind of extended school year to alleviate the crowding in the schools. Trustee Paul H. Johnson, who retires from the board at the end of this month and who has never voted in favor of a millage or bonding issue during his three years on the board, said this morning the school board, "not the voter, should change its actions." "Before certain trustees engage in the traditional luxury of berating the taxpayer and issuing typical threats of cutting out politically popular programs like football,. art and music, they should pause and reflect on the f uil implications of this resounding defeat of the Board of Education's policies," Johnson said.


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