North Tama bond referendum passes with 65% support

Supermajority fueled by absentee satellite vote

Traer resident Kathleen Keefer, at the wonderful age of 100, pictured on Tuesday, Nov. 7 casting her vote in the 2023 city/school election at the Memorial Building. According to Kathleen’s son Pastor Mark Keefer, his mother has voted in every election for which she was eligible. “She especially wanted to get her vote in for this school bond issue,” Pastor Keefer said. “She believes keeping our school vital keeps the community healthy.” PHOTO BY PASTOR MARK KEEFER

TRAER – North Tama will be getting a new school.

Unofficial results from the Nov. 7 city/school election proved the second time was the charm for the North Tama County Community School District in its efforts to pass a two-question, $14.85 million bond referendum to fund facility improvements.

A supermajority of 60% was needed to pass both measures. The first measure (Public Measure TV) which would issue up to $14.85 million in general obligation bonds in order to build, furnish, and equip a new addition at the high school received 65% of the vote with 663 voters marking yes.

The second measure – Public Measure TZ which would allow the district to levy taxes at a higher rate – garnered 63% support with 645 voters marking yes.

The bond narrowly failed by just six votes in a special election last March. The first measure passed this time around by 46 votes.

Buckingham/Perry poll workers including (from right) Karlene Cochran and precinct chair Marguerite Hulme assist voters at the Traer Memorial Building on Tuesday evening during the 2023 city/school election. Three hundred three voters in Traer cast their ballot in favor of the bond issue on Tuesday. PHOTO BY RUBY F. MCALLISTER

The bond’s safe passage on Tuesday appears to have been carried by the absentee in-person satellite vote conducted in late October at the Traer Memorial Building.

In all precincts outside of Buckingham/Perry which includes Traer, the bond received less than 50% of the vote on Election Day, while Buckingham/Perry voters supported both measures by 59.8% which rounds to 60%.

The absentee vote, however, overwhelmingly passed the bond with more than 80% support. In total, more than 430 ballots were cast absentee with 364 of those cast at the satellite voting station – breaking local county records in the process.

“[H]aving a convenient way for people to vote at one central location really makes things simpler,” North Tama Superintendent David Hill said in a text message exchange with the Telegraph on Tuesday evening. “Having two consecutive days of voting right here in Traer was a great move on the part of our community committee.”

In his comments to the Telegraph, Hill credited the efforts of that grassroots committee of community volunteers – a group which sprung into action following the failed March vote – for helping the bond pass this time.

Voters pictured Tuesday evening at the Traer Memorial Building where those in Buckingham and Perry townships turned out to vote in the 2023 city/school election. In late October, an absentee in-person satellite vote was held in the same building for those residing in the North Tama School District that broke local county records for a single day satellite vote. PHOTO BY RUBY F. MCALLISTER

“[A] committee of eight to 10 community volunteers met regularly over the past few months focusing their efforts on turning out voters,” Hill explained. “This committee also organized one or two parent volunteers representing each grade level PK-12 who made phone calls leading up to election day.”

After failing so narrowly in the spring, Hill expressed a great deal of joy and relief in his comments to the Telegraph upon learning the results late Tuesday night.

“I’m very pleased to hear that voters have approved the bond issue on the ballot in the North Tama School District!” Hill said. “As a result, the district will move ahead with Phase I of our facilities master plan.”

Hill also thanked the North Tama community for their involvement during the more than two years the school board spent studying how best to address the district’s infrastructure needs.

“I want to take this opportunity to thank our entire community for their engagement and for the feedback we have received throughout this process. We received great questions and had productive conversations, which we hope to continue in the months and years ahead.”

And finally, Hill thanked members of the Tama County Auditor’s office, the county’s dedicated election workers, and those who volunteered to help the school board turn out the vote.

“Special thanks to the Tama County Auditor’s office staff and poll workers for their hard work and professionalism in conducting this election, and to everyone who volunteered in various ways to help increase voter turnout. We appreciate everyone who voted, regardless of how they voted.”

Following the closure of polls on Tuesday evening, Tama County Auditor Laura Kopsa told the Telegraph turnout by those residing in the North Tama School District’s boundaries was up. During the March special election, 695 people cast ballots. On Tuesday night, more than 1,030 did.

“I think it was a good turnout for a city/school election,” Kopsa said.

As to the next steps, the district will now begin the process of selling the bonds to fund the various aspects of the project which includes an east side addition to replace the 1917 building, secure entry upgrades, a reconfiguration of the locker rooms and weight room to become ADA-compliant, paving the existing back parking lot, and selective maintenance on other parts of the PK-12 campus.

“We look forward to sharing more information and updates as the timeline for these projects becomes clear,” Hill said to end his comments. “Thank you for supporting North Tama and the students we serve!”

*Full local results from the 2023 city/school election will be available later today online while also appearing in next week’s print edition.

North Tama bond referendum unofficial results

Public Measure TV ($14.85 mil bond)

-Absentee YES 352 / NO 78

-Buckingham/Perry YES 232 / NO 156

-Geneseo/Clark YES 6 / NO 8

-Carroll/Oneida YES 55 / NO 87

-York YES 4 / NO 5

-Lincoln/Grant YES 6 / NO 11

-Howard/Toledo YES 0 / NO 2

-Spring Creek/Crystal YES 8 / NO 17

YES 663 (65%)

NO 364


Public Measure TZ (levy at a higher rate)

-Absentee YES 350 / NO 84

-Buckingham/Perry YES 217 / NO 170

-Geneseo/Clark YES 7 / NO 8

-Carroll/Oneida YES 53 / NO 89

-York YES 4 / NO 5

-Lincoln/Grant YES 6 / NO 12

-Howard/Toledo YES 0 / NO 2

-Spring Creek/Crystal YES 8 / NO 17

YES 645 (63%)

NO 387