One year after a levy increase failed by the slimmest of margins in the Cass Midway R-I School District, voters Tuesday had a change of heart.
Needing a 4/7 majority for approval, the measure came up 11 votes shy of passage last year.
With 59.75 percent of the vote in its second appearance on the ballot, the issue passed.
It wasn’t the only Cass County school system to receive a funding boost either. Voters in the Raymore-Peculiar also passed a levy inscrease and Pleasant Hill districts passed a no-tax-increase bond issue.
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The Cass Midway initiative asked voters in Cleveland, Freeman, Lake Annette and West Line to fund classroom renovations, asphalt for the parking lot, the addition of air conditioning in the school’s gyms and provide for asbestos/mastic abatement among numerous other projects — a $3.7 million investment in the district’s K-12 school, courtesy of a 15-cent hike in the propery-tax levy increase.
Raymore-Peculiar School District voters approved an even bigger increase. The district sought a 75-cent levy increase, which was partially offset by a 30-cent cut in the debt-service tax rate.
“I am extremely grateful for the community support for Ray-Pec Schools,” Superintendent Dr. Kari Monsees said in an email to The Democrat. “Our patrons clearly value a high quality school district and want our students and staff to continue to achieve at a high level.
Obviously, a 45-cent hike — which is expected to generate $4 million per year earmarked primarily for staff wages and benefits as well as expanded mental health services and enhanced STEAM offerings among other classroom initiatives — was no small ask, but it was a strategic one.
“During the past few months, I have spoken to many groups throughout the community,” Monsees said. “We had good data to share about our current status and our needs moving forward. The feedback has been very positive throughout the process, mostly because we focused on what our community shared as their priorities during our strategic planning effort last fall. I am excited to work with our Board of Education moving forward to utilize the extra funds for the benefit of our students and staff.”
With a 57.27-percent “yes” vote, the measure prevailed. The result will be a property-tax increase of approximately $167 per year on a $195,000 home within the district’s borders.
It’s the first tax increase for the Ray-Pec district since voters approved an $18 million bond issue in 2005. A no-tax-increase bond passed in 2016 to fund building upgrades.
Ray-Pec voters also elected Ashley Jones (20.95 percent) and Billy King (19.56) to the school board. Paul Bertolone (18.03) and Joyce Noah (17.78) were the closest challengers in the six-candidate field.
Cass County voters in the Pleasant Hill R-III School District also overwhelmingly approved a no-tax-increase bond issue, with more than 81 percent voting yes for $13 million in proposed building upgrades.
Belton votes down use tax
Belton voters soundly rejected a local use tax by an even wider margin than five years ago.
With 1,643 ballots cast, the measure, which would have taxed out-of-state and online sales at the same rate as retail purchases at brick-and-mortar stores within city limits, failed by more than a two-to-one margin.
The local use tax, which would have provided at least $200,000 per year for the city’s fire department and infrastructure needs, was voted down by 68.78 percent of voters.
It failed with 60.29 percent of voters against it in 2013.
Voters in Independence, Blue Springs, Odessa also rejected local use tax initiatives, while Liberty and Lake Waukomis passed a similar ordinance.
There also will be a new member of the Belton City Council after Stephanie Davidson nipped incumbent Bob Newell in a tight race for a seat representing Ward 3.
Davidson won by 14 votes, 197-183, in claiming 51.84 percent of the vote.
Three other council incumbents prevailed, including Ryan Finn in Ward 1 and Dean VanWinkle in Ward 2. Both won with approximately 60 percent of the vote, while Gary Lathrop ran unopposed for reelection in Ward 4.
Additionally, Belton School District No. 124 voters retained two incumbents, Jim Armillo and board vice president Linda Wilckens.
Sherwood R-VIII School District voters in Cass County gave the nod to Tyler Whitworth and Don Wheeler in another school board race.
Cities reshape leadership
A total of 30 votes separated the top three candidates in a four-way race for a Ward 2 seat on the Raymore City Council.
Thomas Circo received 192 of 565 votes, or 33.98 percent, compared with 170 votes for Loren Jones II and 162 for James Petermann.
Holly Stark was reelected as mayor in Peculiar. She received 58.38 percent of the vote among 555 ballots cast in fending off challenger Kimberly Mallinson.
Three members were elected to the city’s board of aldermen, including Ward 2 incumbent Jeff Harlan, who ran unopposed for reelection. For two contested and vacant spots, Tom Broadhurst won Ward 1 and Kyle Gillespie prevailed in Ward 3.
Pleasant Hill voters also reelected their mayor, as C.J. Hicks received 65.53 percent of the vote. But in the city council race for Precinct 22, Tria Cartner ousted incumbent Don Donovan.
By a seven-vote margin, Daniel Cantrell will be the next mayor of Garden City after receiving 166 votes.
Also in Garden City, Shannon Leslie won election to the board of aldermen from the West Ward with 90 votes, edging Alvin Poisal by six votes.
Drexel elected Aubrey Deal and Donna Crawford for two-year terms to the city’s board of aldermen and Lake Winnebago elected Jaylynn Fortney to the city’s board of aldermen from Ward 1.
Harold James has been elected to the East Lynne Board of Aldermen, but there was a tie for the second opening between Roy Sparks and Frank “Bo” Edwards, who each received 14 votes.
More election results
Jerry Johnson edged J. David Martin with 53.1 percent of the vote in the Cass County Regional Medical Center Trustee election. Both candidates received more than 3,000 votes.
Kellie Mason was elected to the Public Water Supply District No. 6 board from Sub-District 4 and Randall Miller won in Sub-District 5.
Finally, the city of Cleveland passed a 5-percent license tax on power and light providers by a nearly two-to-one margin.
For complete election results, visit http://www.casscounty.com/2210/County-ClerkElection-Authority and click on “Election Results” atop the lefthand menu.