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July 29, 2014 10:10:31 AM
Lowndes County voters will head to the polls Aug. 26 to decide a $47 million school bond issue and Lowndes County Circuit Clerk Haley Salazar said her office is ready.
Absentee ballots are available for people who will not be able to get to the polls and cast a vote on the proposed Lowndes County School District bond, which would help fund renovations and new construction of campuses in Caledonia, New Hope and West Lowndes.
Voters who do go to the polls on Aug. 26 will cast paper ballots instead of using the usual voting machines, Salazar said. Paper ballots, she said, are more economical, though she did not offer specifics.
"It's much more feasible to do a paper ballot and a hand count," she said.
Salazar has never handled a special bond issue vote. She was hesitant to offer an estimate on voter turnout. Regardless of the turnout, Salazar said her office has ample absentee ballots.
"Nobody has even called or inquired about it at this point but we have a sufficient number of ballots to cover it," she said. She added, however, "We have prepared for a very good turnout in those precincts that are participating."
Salazar's office is accepting absentee ballots from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. The office will also be open from 8 a.m. to noon on Aug. 16 and Aug. 23.
To proceed with the renovation and construction projects, 60 percent of votes cast must be in favor of the bond.
If the bond issue passes, taxpayers in the Lowndes School District can expect a tax increase of roughly $8-$10 a month, based on a house and a car valued at a combined $100,000, said board attorney Jeff Smith.
School officials say the bond would pay for Phase 2 of a plan that includes a $14 million career-tech center to be built on Lehmberg Road that will be used by all three campuses; a $26 million high school at New Hope; and $2.8 million for extensive renovations to the current New Hope middle school. The remainder of the money will be spread between new field houses and tracks at both the Caledonia and New Hope campuses; a new weight room at West Lowndes High School; and an initiative that will put laptops in the hands of every student.
Phase 1 of the master plan is nearing completion. That phase, which cost $26 million, was paid for by on-hand district funds.
For more information on absentee ballots, contact the Circuit Clerk's Office at 662-329-5900.
Sarah Fowler covered crime, education and community related events for The Dispatch.
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