PORT ARTHUR - Families in the Port Arthur ISD have overwhelmingly rejected a proposal to increase taxes.
2,020 people voted against the proposed 13 cent increase in the tax rate while 534 voted for it.
In early voting totals alone, 1,083 people voted against the proposed increase while 300 voted for it.
The tax ratification election was to determine if the PAISD tax rate increased from $1.04 to $1.17 per $100 of assessed value.
Voters were asked whether they want to pay more school taxes to fund projects the superintendent says are critical to the district's future.
The superintendent, Dr. Johnny Brown, says the money is needed for several reasons: for capital improvements; to buy new school buses and perform maintenance on buses that are more than ten years old; to give teachers a salary increase; and to satisfy a legal judgment in favor of the Valero Refinery.
Brown says the district is moving forward. He says graduation rates are up and dropout numbers have decreased. According to Brown, there is a "real need" for the funds. He spoke with KFDM News reporter Megan Dillard late Tuesday night once the results were final.
"We lost several million dollars from the state last year and the federal government," said Dr. Brown. "We're losing several million dollars this year, and then we anticipated that $5 1/2 million would be needed to continue the march forward in the direction and pace that we anticipated. So, we'll continue to do good work with the children. We'll focus on doing all we can with the resources that are made available, tighten our belts where we can."
Dr. Brown told Megan the district won't be able to buy new school buses, deal with existing maintenance issues or provide salary increases for teachers.
He also said the district will have to go into the fund balance to pay for the Valero lawsuit.
Dr. Brown stressed the entire proposed increase was, in his view, "about the children."
He hopes the district and community can work together to put a plan in place that will best support Port Arthur students.
The Greater Port Arthur Chamber of Commerce didn't actively campaign against the proposed tax increase but chose not to support it. Chamber leaders say it's the wrong time to ask for an increase given the tough economy and worried about the impact on businesses and residents. They believe the district can find ways to save money and promise to work with PAISD to help in any way possible.