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After a record setting election, Auburn City Schools will have to come up with a Plan "B" after voters rejected a tax increase to support the school system's plan to fund the building of a new high school.
Some 46 percent of voters supported the measure while 54 percent said "no" to the tax hike. It was a difference of 733 votes.
The tax would have raised an additional $8.5 million a year for the school system. For homeowners, it would have meant an additional $16 on the average Auburn house of $215,000.
When the results started rolling in, supporters of the property tax increase knew they were on the losing end. "I think my word would be 'disappointed'," said Auburn Mayor Bill Ham who believes he got the message that a tax increase is not something Auburn residents want.
The extra money would have gone to help ease the overcrowding and build a new high school. Now, the school system is looking in a different direction. Superintendent Dr. Karen DeLano has suggested staff and transportation could be on the chopping block. That has some residents concerned.
"By the time you cut out everything that is not completely essential, your children don't have any art and music and all the things that make life worth living," said one resident.
"We'll get by," another resident said, "but it won't be as nice. Probably going to be portable classrooms," she said.
Mayor Ham says the city will consider helping the school system financially but says something will have to give.
"I think there was a misconception that there might be excessive funds either at the schools or at the city, but that's not the case," the mayor said.
Supt. DeLano says in the next two weeks she'll evaluate what needs to be done. She will then make recommendations to the Auburn City School Board on how the district will progress for the remainder of this school year.
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