Champaign County sets new turnout record, $183.4 million education referendum


Nikitha Gajula

At the Brookens Administrative Center in Urbana, the group, Build Programs, Not Jails! celebrated the results of the sales tax referendum.

By Daily Illini Staff Report

Local election history was made at the Brookens Administrative Center Tuesday night. The precinct totals show that Champaign County had a total of 92,143 ballots cast surpassing the past 84,000 ballot record.

Champaign County Clerk Gordy Hulten said voting increased by about 10 percent.

“We’re very happy with the turnout, and very happy that everything went so smoothly today,” Hulten said.

Supporters and dissenters alike followed as the Champaign County precinct ballot results came in minute – by – minute. Some of the big local toss-ups for this year’s election included the Unit 4 referendum for Champaign public schools as well as the proposed retailer’s occupation tax increase.

The Champaign County Board of Education was in attendance at the Brookens Administrative Center. The board waited and eventually celebrated after results showed the Unit 4 referendum passed with a “Yes” vote of 65 percent.

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    The $183.4 million referendum fund school facility improvement. $25 million will be added to Unit 4’s fund balance for repairs and improvements, on top of the passage of the referendum.

    The funding is the second largest educational proposed referendum in Illinois history.

    Champaign Board of Education President Chris Kloeppel said that the funds are mainly focused around six facilities in the district. Both Central and Centennial high schools will see extensive remodels and expansions.

    Kloeppel said that of the 12 middle schools in the district, nine have already been updated or have become elementary schools prior to the referendum passage. The three remaining middle schools will be subject to improvements.

    The Build Programs, Not Jails group also attended the ballot count to protest another proposed referendum increasing retailers occupation taxes.

    The group’s main platform of preventing more money from sales tax going towards jail construction prevailed, as the proposed increase was voted a majority “No,” with 70 percent of the vote.

    “We thank the voters of Champaign County for taking this issue seriously and defeating the referendum, and we pledge to continue to fight for alternatives to incarceration,” said the leader of the Build Programs, Not Jails group.

    After 100 percent of the precinct totals were reported, the room began to clear out. As people left the building, many discussed the then on-going national presidential election.

    The total Champaign county ballot numbers for the federal election were Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton with 54 percent, Republican candidate Donald Trump with 36 percent, Libertarian party candidate Gary Johnson with 4.95 percent, Green Party candidate Jill Stein with 1.94 percent and write-in candidates with 1.92 percent.

    Aaron Navarro and Lilly Mashayek contributed to the report.

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