• Check out all North Central Washington and state election results and stories: Election 2010
EAST WENATCHEE — At first, the bad news barely rose above the excited chatter of Eastmont’s campaign committee Tuesday night.
“Hey folks, it didn’t pass,” Superintendent Garn Christensen called out. “Fifty-seven percent.”
The room quieted. The 30 volunteers and school staff looked around the tables at each other, dumbfounded.
About 57.6 percent of voters supported the $30.8 million bond measure, more than 2 percent short. It’s unclear whether Eastmont can still reach the 60 percent it needs with the remaining ballots. As of Tuesday, the ballot measure had 3,474 votes in support and 2,562 against.
“We have a good 3,000 votes left to count. Your guess is as good as mine,” said elections supervisor Marty Whitehall. “We are going to get as many processed as we can Friday, and we may even work Saturday.”
The bond would have paid for major maintenance projects and remodeling at three aging schools — Eastmont High, Sterling Intermediate and Grant Elementary.
Taxpayers would see their property taxes increase by 50 to 56 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation. That’s about $112 a year for a $200,000 home.
The district also was eligible for an additional $44.5 million in state matching funds — a $1.44 match to every local dollar.
If the school board decides to try the proposal again on a later ballot, Eastmont still will be eligible for state match money, Christensen said. How much is anyone’s guess. The project costs, bond rates and the amount of money eligible in state match money will all change.
He said he sensed disappointment after he made the announcement.
“Anytime people put a tremendous amount of effort in a project and take time out of own lives, when it’s not successful it’s always disheartening. It goes with the territory.”
Before the 8:30 p.m. results, many in the crowd said they thought the measure would pass. In all of their campaigning, few heard any opposition to the measure.
For the last two months, volunteers waved picket signs, planted signs in yards and windows, visited service clubs, mailed newsletters and set up a websites and social networking sites with video, graphics and information.
“You wonder who voted no?” campaign chairman Pat Haley said. “Looking at the economics of it, I think it was the stress of the economy. They just couldn’t agree to an increase on their property taxes.”
Rachel Schleif: 664-7139