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Voters approve two measures in Washington County special elections



FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Voters in the Washington County area approved two measures in special elections Tuesday.

The elections were in Prairie Grove and the Farmington School District. Prairie Grove residents and voters in the Farmington School District were asked to approve construction projects.

Prairie Grove asked voters to replace two sales taxes — one of 1% and one of 0.75% — with two new taxes of the same amount to pay for a bond issue. The ballot contained nine questions.

The existing taxes were authorized for earlier construction bond issues and would end when those bonds are paid. The tax rate remains the same with voter approval, according to Larry Oelrich, the city’s former public works director.

The taxes would allow the city to pay off bonds and issue new bonds for a range of projects including street and drainage improvements, water and sewer lines, an expansion of the sewer treatment plant, a new fire truck, and park improvements, Oelrich said.

The proposals will authorize bonds up to about $18.3 million, Oelrich said, although the projects are expected to cost about $15.4 million.

On issuing new bonds, 142 (83%) voters approved to 30 against (17%), according to final, but unofficial results from the Washington County Election Commission.

On paying off 2014 bonds, 142 (83%) voters approved to 30 against (17%), according to the results.

On fire improvements, 144 (84%) voted for the measure while 27 (16%) voted against.

On water improvement bonds, 148 (86%) voters said yes and 24 (14%) said no.

On sewer improvement bonds, 147 (85%) voted for the question and 25 (15%) voted against.

On refunding the 2012 bond issue, 140 (81%) voted for the measure and 32 (19%) voted against.

On street improvements, 140 (82%) voted for and 31 (18%) voted against.

On park improvements, 135 (78%) said yes and 37 (22%) said no.

On drainage bonds, 141 (82%) supported the question and 31 (18%) opposed it.

Farmington School District residents were asked to approve a restructuring of bonds to free up money for construction projects.

The vote was 122 (81%) for to 29 (19%) against, according to final, but unofficial results from the Election Commission.

Voters approved the school property tax rate of 42.4 mills, which is slightly lower than the current 42.6 millage rate. The proposal will pay off bonds issued in 2015 and 2016 and generate $6 million to $7 million for capital improvement projects.

Superintendent Jon Laffoon said the district wants to expand the junior high school by adding several classrooms, some science labs and a multipurpose auditorium space. The district also hopes to add six classrooms at both elementary schools.