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By Margaret Toal
For the Record 

Local voters approve Orangefield's $43 million bond issue


Last updated 11/7/2023 at 10:33pm

Orangefield school students will be getting new classrooms plus a new high school library and cafeteria as voters Tuesday approved the school district to sell $43 million in bonds to pay for the improvements.

Other local propositions on the ballot also passed. They were a voter approved tax rate increase for the Little Cypress-Mauriceville CISD, and in the city of West Orange, a sales tax to establish a city economic development corporation.

In recent years, early voting usually brings in a majority of the ballots cast. But on Election Day Tuesday, Orange County had almost as many people turn out vote as during the extended early voting period. One reason may be the county's new system of allowing voters to go to any of the polling spots in the county, rather than only the box in their assigned neighborhood.

Orangefield had a total of 1,424 votes cast, with 987, or 69.3 percent, in favor of the bond issue. The against votes had 437, or 30.7 percent. Early voting drew 632 people, while 771 went to the polls on Tuesday.

The Little Cypress-Mauriceville CISD's voter approved tax rate election passed with 1,359 "for", and 903 "against, with percentages at 60 percent approval and 40 percent against. A total of 2,259 votes were cast, with 1,127 early and 1,096 on Election Day.

The West Orange sales tax proposition had a total of 206 votes with 112, or 54.3 percent in favor, and 94, or 45.7 percent against. The city had 107 early votes with 62 "for" and 45 "against." On Tuesday, 94 people voted with 47 "for" and 47 "against."

The state had Texas Constitution amendment proposals on the ballot, but statewide results will come in late Tuesday or even Wednesday.

The Orangefield school board called the bond election and promoted it as way to improve school safety, a big issue when school shootings have become regular occurrences.

The bonds will pay for new classrooms at all three of the district's campuses, elementary, junior high, and high school. The elementary classrooms will replace the portable buildings being used to hold classes. Also, the high school will get a new cafeteria and a new library.

LC-M voters last year rejected a similar tax proposal. The state legislature and Texas Education Agency have set caps on the amount of a property tax rate school boards can set. Those property taxes are used for M&O, or maintenance and operations. Those funds are used to pay teachers and staff, pay utilities, plus to keep buildings and grounds clean and maintained.

The only way for a district to get more income through local property taxes is to hold a VATRE (Voter Approved Tax Rate Election).

The West Orange City Council decided to try to set up a city Economic Development Corporation that could offer incentives for businesses to locate within the city limits. The proposed 1/4 percent sales tax on the ballot will be used to fund the EDC.


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