Hillsboro school bond trailing by an even larger margin

A bond measure to fund a new library in Cornelius was narrowly trailing by a 53 percent "no" to 47 percent "yes" vote when the Washington County Elections Division posted early results at 8 p.m. Tuesday NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: PATRICIA GARNER - Supporters of the Cornelius library bond measure gatherd on the site of the proposed new building on Sunday.

“We're a bit disappointed, but we don't feel like it is over,” said Library Director Karen Hill. "We know they were picking up ballots in Cornelius when the polls closed at 8 p.m."

The $2.4 million library bond was one of three money measures on the Nov. 5 ballot in western Washington County. A measure to extend the current five-year tax levy for operating the Cornelius Rural Fire Protection District was passing easily with 78 percent of early votes in the “yes" column. Meanwhile, a bond measure for capital construction in the Hillsboro School District — which affects one third of Cornelius families — was losing, by a margin of 44 percent "yes" to 56 percent "no" in early returns. The five-year, $25 million bond would support the purchase of new instructional technology equipment, safety enhancements and maintenance of school buildings around the district, including Free Orchards Elementary School in Cornelius. (Check the News-Times website,, for election updates.)

But most political observers in Cornelius were most closely watching the library bond measure, which would give the go-ahead to Bienestar, a nonprofit housing agency, to start applying for grant money to build two floors of senior housing on top of the first-floor library. Plans for the three-story building also include a community room and two floors of affordable senior housing.

In 2004, the city floated an $11.5 million levy that would have paid for an 11,000-square-foot building that included a community center, library, indoor pool and soccer facilities. Despite polls showing 55 percent of respondents were in favor of the project, the measure went down to defeat by a wide margin, with only 29 percent voting yes.

Should this year's more modest measure end up prevailing at the polls, the City of Cornelius and the Friends of the Cornelius Library group will need to get busy and find a way to match the $2.4 million pledged by Cornelius citizens in order to help the project move forward.

The city hired a consultant over the summer to evaluate whether it could raise the money, Hill said. “She also helped us set out the plan for how to do it. The first couple months we’d be going after the largest amounts.”

Those would likely come from foundations such as the Ford Family Foundation and the Meyer Memorial Trust.

Bond supporters mounted a massive campaign, with several different groups knocking on doors while others waved pro-bond signs at rush hour traffic.

Before the vote, Hill said, she’d talked to people on both sides of the issue but didn’t really have a sense of how the vote would play out but did feel good about the campaign.

"Most people felt that we did a good job and I'm proud of how far we've come," said Hill, who gathered on election eve at Prime Time Restaurant and Bar with other supporters, including City Manager Rob Drake. "I do think this election has pulled our community together."

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