Voters in Tempe and West Chandler on Nov. 2 overwhelmingly approved continuation of a budget override in the Kyrene School District, while West Chandler voters joined those across the city in overwhelmingly approving sale of five municipal bonds for a wide variety of uses.
Results are still unofficial. There remain fewer than 6,000 ballots to count, according to Maricopa County elections officials, but the outstanding vote total is not enough to change the outcome of any of these issues.
Kyrene, whose 26 schools serve approximately 15,000 K-8 students in Tempe, Chandler, Guadalupe and Ahwatukee in Phoenix, saw continuation of its maintenance and operations override pass with 61 percent of the nearly 26,000 votes cast.
Maintenance and operations funding supports teacher salaries, smaller class sizes, special-area instruction like music and art, and targeted student support services.
The Kyrene Citizens’ Budget Committee early this year recommended putting the issue on the ballot in the special election.
The 15 percent budget override amount for the first year of the continuation is estimated to be $13,980,170 and will be funded by an estimated $0.56 tax rate per $100 of net assessed valuation – roughly $160 a year for the average-valued home in the school district – for secondary property-tax purposes, which is approximately equal to the current secondary-tax rate for the existing budget override that is scheduled to expire.
Continuation of the earlier voter-approved maintenance and operations override in the school district generates 15 percent additional funding above what is provided by the state.
Meanwhile, Chandler’s five bond issues, worth nearly $273 million, include funding for police facilities, replacement of a fire station in North Chandler, upgrades to parks and streets and more bike paths. Each carried by more than a 2 to 1 majority.
The bonds are one-time funding, meaning they may not go toward ongoing expenses, such as salaries. They are intended to support large capital projects.
Chandler last took a bond issue to voters in 2008, when the city’s population was significantly smaller.
Question 1, for the sale of $53 million in bonds for construction and improvement of parks, received 69 percent approval of more than 32,000 votes cast.
Question 2, $25 million for the Fire Department, received 77 percent approval. This will allow the city to replace aging 2-bay Station 282 with a 4-bay building at the city’s busiest station on the north side.
Question 3, $55 million for the Police Department, which carried with 70 percent of the vote, not only will allow the city to upgrade existing facilities but also to build its own crime lab, something Chief Sean Duggan was passionate about in his report to City Council in April.
Question 4, nearly $86 million for streets and transit, the largest of the five bonds, received 74 percent approval.
Question 5, for more than $33 million for city buildings, carried with the tightest margin of the five but still polled 66 percent in favor. It will fund renovation, replacement and remodeling of municipal buildings, which include Chandler Center for the Arts, as well as senior, community and recreation centers.