Early Voting On Benton County Millage Higher Than Expected
In Benton County, 4,141 people voted early on the proposed mill-tax increase to build a second high school in the Bentonville School District, officials said Monday.
Dana Ferguson, county election supervisor, said that figure exceeded expectations. The week-long early voting period began June 19.
“It was a lot more than we thought it would be,” Ferguson said Monday.
By comparison, only 7,526 people voted early in the May 22 primary election that included multiple state and local races across the entire county. Benton County has 108,291 registered voters, Ferguson said.
However, the school district, encompassing only a portion of the county, has just 42,070 registered voters, she said.
Ferguson attributed the high turnout in part to the publicity from school district officials working for the proposal’s passage.
Election day is Tuesday.
Voters are deciding on a 6.7 tax millage increase to build a second high school and fund other improvements in the district. But an anonymous group says in a flier that the increase sought by the school district is excessive.
School officials said the millage increase would be district-wide and added to other mills taxpayers already pay. The amount could be different depending on where voters live.
The school district says for a $200,000 home, the owner would likely pay $264 dollars extra a year. Michael Poore, school district superintendent, said the owner of a $200,000 home would pay roughly $20 extra a month if the millage increase passes.
The millage would also fund $6 million in district-wide technology advancements; $23,756,875 for a combined football/track/soccer stadium with seating for 5,000; and a baseball field, softball field and synthetic turf practice field. Two million dollars would go toward renovations at the current high school. The second high school would be built in Centerton and would be in use by 2015, officials said.
“I’m not aware of any school district that has been able to pay for it to just say we’re paying for it,” Poore said. “[It’s] just too big of an amount.”
The new 2,000 student high school in Centerton is designed for expansion if needed. But Poore said there’s room for growth at both schools until 2020.
The anti-tax group says the current high school is not at capacity, but Poore disagrees.
“I think one of the challenges in terms of a group that`s presenting some information is that they believe the ideal capacity of that school would be around 4,000, but if anyone would go walk our hallways right now at the high school and next year…they would say that wouldn’t be an ideal capacity,” Poore said.
He said the millage increase would not pay personnel costs.
On election day Tuesday, polls open from 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. at these locations:
- Cave Springs Community Building, 117 S. Main St. in Bentonville
- First Assembly of God Church, 2202 S. Walton Blvd. in Bentonville
- Bella Vista Christian Church, 103 Riordan Road
- Bella Vista Church of Christ, 8889 W. McNelly Road
- St. Theodore’s Episcopal Church, 1001 Kingsland Road in Bella Vista.