Override Wins With 2:1 Margin

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Voters overwhelmingly approved a budget override for the Payson Unified School District on Tuesday.

With all five precincts reporting, unofficial results from Gila County elections officials showed the initiative passed 1,703 to 943. Nearly 64 percent of those casting ballots voted yes, making the margin of victory almost 2:1.

"It's a good thing for the district," PUSD Superintendent Herb Weissenfels said. "It certainly is going to avert having to do some very difficult things that could potentially have interfered with the educational process.

"We were prepared either way, but thank goodness we can move ahead with positive results. We'll go back and wrestle with the state for the future."

The PUSD board had prepared two budgets, one with the override money included and one without. Cuts if the override failed would have included the middle school nurse, several librarians, and a total of 18 staff positions, including 16 teachers.

Passage of the override means maintaining optimal class sizes; retaining the middle school nurse, school librarians, and other personnel; reinstating the elementary school physical education programs that were eliminated last year; retaining the current level of extracurricular activities, and opening an alternative school for at-risk students in grades 6 through 12.

The only precinct voting against the override was Gisela, which turned it down 50-34. The totals in the other four precincts were (yes votes first) 782-398 in Precinct 1; 846-464 in Precinct 2; 29-21 in Precinct 3 (Whispering Pines); and 12-10 in Precinct 4 (Zane Grey).

The board asked voters to approve the 10 percent override for seven years, which will raise an estimated $1,242,032. The average taxpayer who lives in a house valued at $116,000 will see an annual tax increase of $63, the additional tax on a house valued at $58,000 will be $31, while a $232,000 house will be assessed an additional $126.

Because businesses are assessed at 25 percent of full cash value, a business valued at $270,000 will see a tax increase of $368.

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