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Voting advice great for all

A group of Argyle Intermediate School students heard a presentation on voting Wednesday that covered some important points.

We hope the youngsters paid close attention and carried the message home to their parents.

The presentation by attorney Cameron Cox, a 1994 Argyle Middle School alumnus, preceded the school’s Celebrate Freedom Week, recognizing the sacrifices made for freedom in the United States and the values the country was founded on.

“People have died and fought wars to get the right to vote,” Cox told the fifth- and sixth-graders. “It’s an important right, and it’s a right that each and every one of you should exercise when you become 18. And for every year that you have a chance to vote, vote.”

That’s great advice, and we wish that residents throughout the area would follow it. Too many area elections suffer from a lack of voter turnout.

But it was an especially important and timely message for residents in the Argyle school district, who on Saturday will cast their ballots in a special election for or against a 6 cent tax rate increase for the district’s operating budget.

School officials earlier this month decreased the debt service tax rate by 4 cents but need voter approval to increase the rate that supports day-to-day district operations.

Argyle school officials want to increase the maintenance and operations tax rate from $1.04005 to $1.10005 per $100 valuation to offset increased expenses for the 2012-13 fiscal year. To increase the rate above the $1.04 rate, the state requires the school district to call a tax ratification election and get voter approval.

The average home value in the Argyle school district is $357,264. District officials have said if the tax ratification vote passes, the tax bill on that average-valued home will increase by $71. The tax increase would bring the district an additional $583,000 in revenue, district officials have said.

Public meetings on the issue were held Aug. 16 and 21.

“It’s asking a lot of money,” Martha Mason, a 35-year Argyle resident said in one of those meetings.

The retiree said she’s on a fixed income and worries about the impact that could be brought on by increased property values.

Kevin Sanders, an Argyle resident of 10 years, said during the same meeting that he supports the tax increase.

“I see it as an investment election,” he said. “I would encourage everyone to get out and support this because I think this is extremely important to our district.”

Officials opted to hold a separate election rather than waiting for the general election in November. We don’t know how that will affect voter turnout on Saturday, but we’re hoping Wednesday’s timely civics lesson will remind residents that they need to go to the polls.

The district has approximately 5,500 registered voters, and fewer than 800 turned out for the school board election in May.

The polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday, and voting will take place at the school district Administration Building, 800 Eagle Drive.