Rain and snow have hampered efforts but opponents of a 3 percent utilities tax in the Fairview school district say they have already collected more than enough signatures on a second round of petitions to take the issue to a vote this month.
Members of a committee opposing the tax will continue collecting signatures over the weekend and probably will submit them to the county clerk’s office for verification early next week, said committee member Melvin “Joe” Weis.
Weather difficulties may have been offset by a new determination to bring the issue before voters, Weis said. The efforts of district officials to halt the election instead have turned more people against the issue, he said.
“I’ve had a lot of people call me who didn’t sign the last time so I think now I will have a lot of people that didn’t sign the last one,” he said.
The previous petition drive garnered more than twice as many signatures as needed.
Some Westwood residents are knocking on his door to sign the petition, he said.
Opponents are collecting the signatures for the second time because the district claimed the question on the first petition was improperly worded and took opponents to court over it.
Circuit Judge C. David Hagerman didn’t rule on the district’s request for an injunction to halt the election but instead suggested a second petition with different wording.
The new petitions use Hagerman’s suggested words, Weis said.
Weis thinks the court challenge angered voters, who felt the district was trying to disenfranchise them. Earlier this week, robocalls to some Westwood residents stirred public sentiment further, he said.
The calls were in the form of a poll but opponents say the poll was propaganda in disguise.
“They felt it was a putdown to feel they would fall for something like that,” he said.
The tax, which has been rejected two previous times by voters, would be collected on gas, water, electric, sewer, telephone, cable and satellite bills.
The board enacted it in December, but state law provides for voters to decide its fate if enough sign petitions to trigger an election.
The single-issue election is set for Feb. 19.
School board chairman Scott McIntyre could not be reached for comment Friday.
MIKE JAMES can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or