Graham voters say ‘no’ to income tax levy for the third time

Graham Local School voters rejected an earned income tax levy for the third time Tuesday night, according to unofficial results from the Champaign County Board of Elections Office.

Voters rejected the levy question 55 percent to 45 percent, according to the results.

“While it is not the outcome that we wanted, we worked hard to communicate to our community, and to engage our residents with information about the financial stress our district is under,” Graham Superintendent Kirk Koennecke said. “I wish to thank our caring volunteers, teachers, staff and community supporters. They did a fantastic job. They want what is best for our Graham school community.”

RELATED: Graham Local Schools ask voters again to pass levy

Graham Local Schools were forced to cut about $1.5 million from its budget after voters rejected the same levy in May. They did so by cutting jobs and adding fees.

Many of those jobs lost were school bus drivers, as transportation costs took one of the biggest hits. Koennecke said that means lengthy bus rides, longer waits and inconvenienced parents. He referenced some students who had to wake up at 5 a.m. just to catch their bus on the first day of school.

Officials had hoped the measure would pass this time around.

“The need did not go away with the failure of this levy,” stated Board President Ryan Pine. “The district has not had new operating dollars in over 26 years and the budget will remain strained. It will take some time, however, to assess the next steps and to determine what it means operationally for the district.”

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In May, voters rejected the levy by a 50 vote margin. However, this time around they said no by more than 400 votes.

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