Voters in the Nogales Unified School District gave an emphatic thumbs up to the district’s request to raise property tax rates to help pay for school programs and teacher recruitment and retention.
“I think it speaks very highly – knowing and understanding our economic situation here in our district, how it is – that still you have our voters come out and support these initiatives for the schools and for our students,” NUSD Superintendent Fernando Parra said of the result.
Unofficial results reported by the County Elections Office after provisional ballots were tabulated Thursday showed that 1,054 people (59.5 percent) voted “yes” to extend an existing budget override for seven years beginning in fiscal year 2020-2021, and to increase the amount of the override from 6.39 to 8 percent.
Viridiana Ríos doesn’t have kids of her own, but she was thinking of her nephews in NUSD schools when she voted “yes.” She said she hoped that the extra funding would help the district provide programming for one of her nephews who has ADHD and has been struggling in school.
Another 717 people (40.5 percent), voted “no” to the request, according to the unofficial results.
Patrick, a Nogales resident who only gave his first name, said he’d voted against the override for a simple reason: “My property taxes would go up.”
District leadership had said the override extension was needed to provide continuing funding for academic programs such as Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate, as well as extracurricular activities including music, arts, clubs and Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.).
Not all district residents participated in Tuesday’s election.
Leo Torres, who has two children ages 3 and 1, said he moved to Nogales two months ago and wasn’t aware of the election. If he’d known, he said, he “definitely” would have voted in favor of the override.
And Juan Carlos Caro, who has two children at NUSD schools, said he didn’t vote because he is a U.S. resident, but not a citizen.
Parra said he “had a good feeling” going into the election, but wasn’t counting on a win, noting that voter turnout can be lower for elections that don’t include high-profile political races.
In a letter to the editor published Sept. 13 in the NI, Parra wrote that NUSD was asking for an increase in the override amount so it could attract and keep highly qualified teachers and staff, as well as to increase the amount provided to students traveling for school events from $7 a meal to $10.
The estimated secondary tax rate needed to fund the 8-percent override is $2.12 per $100 of net assessed valuation, which means the owner of a home assessed at $89,170 can expect to pay approximately $189 per year to fund the override, while the owner of a home assessed at $178,340 will pay an estimated $379 per year.
Under the current 6.39-percent override, the owner of a home assessed at $89,170 pays approximately $126 per year, while the owner of a home assessed at $178,340 pays an estimated $252 per year.
Ríos, the “yes” voter, said she’d thought about the costs, but decided it was worth it. “We still pay taxes anyway,” she said.
A “no” vote on Tuesday’s ballot measure would have phased out the existing 6.39-percent override by one-third in fiscal year 2020-2021 and another one-third in 2021-2022 before eliminating it in 2022-2023.