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St. Robert pool tax passes by landslide 88 percent margin in Tuesday vote
SAINT ROBERT, Mo. (Aug. 4, 2009) — Voters in the city which generates more than two-thirds of Pulaski County’s sales tax revenue overwhelmingly voted Tuesday to adopt a quarter-cent sales tax for pools and parks.

The final vote was 218 to 17, or 88 percent in favor to 12 percent opposed.

While only voters in the city limits could vote on the tax, it will be paid by anyone who shops at Wal-Mart or other businesses on St. Robert Boulevard, Missouri Avenue, or the St. Robert section of Old Route 66. Poll workers said some people tried to vote on the tax who don’t live in the city limits, and they had to be turned away.

“If their name is not in the book, we usually just ask them if they live in the city limits or not,” said poll worker Kim Combs. “Most of the time, they smile and leave, but sometimes they’re not sure so we have to call down to the courthouse to check.”

Nearly all of the votes were cast in person on Thursday; eight people cast absentee ballots with six in favor of the tax and two opposed. With only 227 votes to count, all from one precinct, County Clerk Diana Linnenbringer said she left her office only 45 minutes after the polls closed.

That’s a major improvement from prior elections in which poll workers routinely stayed until midnight or even later. Linnenbringer still had to come to work at 5:15 a.m. to get the polls ready for a 6 a.m. opening, but she credited the quick county mostly to better technology. The county’s new “second-chance” voting system automatically tallies each ballot as it is cast by the voter and tells voters if there’s an error or other problem on their ballot.

That makes counting ballots far faster unless there’s an equipment problem or a race in which a manual count is required because of write-in ballots. The ballots aren’t added up until the end of the day but they are added by computer.

“Within seconds, it tabulates everything in it, and it pops out, and we have the totals, and we also have the paper trail,” Linnenbringer said.

The St. Robert precinct has more than 5,000 registered voters, but some of those live on Fort Leonard Wood, north of the city limits on Highway Y, or other areas outside the city limits. Only the 1,960 registered voters within the St. Robert city limits were eligible to vote, and they voted with an 11.9 percent turnout — not high by countywide standards, but one of the best turnouts in years for a St. Robert city election, where turnouts are often 3 percent or even less.

“I believe that the elected officials in the city of St. Robert, as well as a number of other citizens, really believed in having this pool built, I’ve been told, for the entire county, and therefore they worked very hard at getting it passed, and it shows,” Linnenbringer said. “(Alderman) Gene Newkirk and (City Administrator) Alan Clark … were ecstatic at the turnout.”

“Of course we’d always like to see the numbers a little bit higher, but it certainly shows that the citizens of the city of St. Robert believe in this project,” Linnenbringer said.

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