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Florence SC School Referendum Overwhelmingly Defeated

Tax hike shot down …

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The leadership of Florence County South Carolina’s school district one thought they had a “gimme” with their $333 million proposed school construction referendum.

An election in the dead of winter would guarantee low turnout, and a prominent local Republican operative running their “voter education” campaign would smooth over any opposition from GOP activists.

In the end, though, none of it went according to plan …

“An election that was supposed to fly under the radar is clearly not following the script written for it by Florence educrats and their political allies,” we noted last week.

Boy was that ever true …

Trouble with the numbers – and suspicion over unproven last-second claims made by referendum supporters – doomed the measure to an ignominious defeat on Tuesday evening.

How ignominious? With all forty-four precincts reporting, a whopping 13,136 Florence County residents (74.8 percent of all ballots cast) voted “no” to the proposed levy. Only 4,419 (25.2 percent of all ballots cast) voted “yes.”

That’s a 3-to-1 beatdown, people …

Are we surprised? No …

According to estimates released by the district’s own financial advisors, millage rates for residents would have soared by anywhere from 32 mills to 67.6 mills had the referendum passed.  Depending on the value of an owner-occupied home, this would have likely resulted in an increase of anywhere between $67 and $268 per property, per year … maybe more.  Similar increases would have been in store for non-owner occupied (i.e. rental) property, commercial property and vehicles.

Residents clearly were unwilling to absorb that sort of hit …

One local leader who was instrumental in defeating the referendum was former S.C. lieutenant governor Ken Ard – whose morning talk show on WFRK 95.3 FM has become one of the most influential voices in the Pee Dee.

Good for Ard …

This news outlet was exceedingly critical of the Pamplico, S.C. native during his turn on the statewide stage back in 2010 – repeatedly blasting him for being insufficiently conservative on fiscal issues. In this instance, however, Ard took a firm stand on behalf of taxpayers – and deserves a lot of the credit for the outcome of this race.

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