Local voters approve Home Rule Charter
by Dolores Hamilton
Voters in Iowa Park have overwhelming supported the adoption of a Home Rule Charter. When the votes were tallied along with Tuesday’s General Election contests, the measure passed with 1,605 voting for the charter and 751 against.
The Iowa Park Consolidated Independent School District’s request for ratification of the tax rate failed with 2,319 voting against an increase and 1,694 for it.
This is the fourth attempt by Iowa Park to become a Home Rule city. Similar measures were voted down in three past elections in 1975,1977 and 1985. In the 1985 election, adoption of a Home Rule Charter failed by only three votes.
The driving force behind passage of the charter in Tuesday’s election could be an opinion released by the Texas Attorney General’s office that a General Law city does not have the authority under current state law to pass an ordinance prohibiting registered sex offenders from living in certain locations within the municipality. Only Home Rule cities can have a residency restriction ordinance.
Iowa Park ... at that time a General Law city ... had earlier passed an ordinance restricting the residency of sex offenders in the city.
In May, voters approved the drafting of a Home Rule Charter and elected 15 people to serve on the commission to write the charter.
“When I was asked this morning by my wife, Cathy, if I was surprised by the margin our Charter had been passed, I quickly responded “Yes”,” said Iowa Park City Administrator Mike Price. “However, after giving it some thought, I realized that we shouldn’t be surprised at how overwhelmingly the citizenry approved our fourth charter draft.
“We, as a country, aren’t happy about the current state of affairs in America, and are demanding change and more control of our destinies,” Price said. “Iowa Parkans are no different. They want to control their own destiny. They don’t necessarily need Austin, Texas telling them what’s good for Iowa Park.”
Price continued, “The Attorney General’s opinion on General Law cities’ sex offender residency ordinances really drove that point home to everyone here. However, there are many other issues that we will now be able to address whereby our citizens have a better pulse on what’s good for us here versus what our Legislators think we need.
“Finally,” he said, “I think our citizens will find being a Home Rule city holds their local leaders more accountable to those who put them in office.”
The local school district was asking for approval of the ad valorem tax rate of $1.25 per $100 valuation, which was higher than the school district rollback tax rate.
Need for the higher tax rate was caused by changes made to the state school finance system in 2006 by the Texas Legislature with HB 1. The only way a school district board of trustees an raise additional revenue is to seek voter approval by the way of a tax ratification election. HB 1 holds schools to 2005 - 2006 funding levels with no adjustment for inflation.
Prior to HB 1, a school district could keep the tax rate the same as last year but generate more revenue based on the amount of local property value increase. Now, as local values increase each year, the state decreases state revenue holding schools to the same funding level from 2005 - 2006.
“I am disappointed that our request failed, but I can understand our voters’ reluctance to approve any additional tax levy during this time of economic downturn,” said Iowa Park CISD Superintendent Jerry Baird. “We asked for direction and it was given. With that said, our mission will continue to be one of delivering the best that we can within the resources available.”
This year the school district is looking at a $450,000 budget deficit, with a possibility of the amount being double in the next year’s budget.
RESULTS IN COUNTY RACES
Judge, 89th District Court
Mark Price (R) 26,561
Juanita Pavlick (D) 17,722
David Duke (R) 25,172
Tommy Smyth (D) 19,182
Sheriff’s Pay Raise
Commissioner Precinct 3
Barry Mahler (D) 5,843
Constable, Precinct 3
Randy Alsup (R) 3,058