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No on 418

Councilmember Eva Putzova, right, celebrates after the return election results showing that voters voted no on Proposition 418, the minimum wage proposition.

Two of the city’s most highly publicized propositions produced clear results Tuesday evening, as Proposition 418 and Proposition 422 both ended up failing to pass.

Prop 418, which would have overturned the minimum wage increase approved in 2016 and modified by the Flagstaff City Council in 2017, ended up with a little more than 55 percent of voters against as of 10:30 p.m. Tuesday evening with 50 percent of votes counted. Prop 422, which offered voters the opportunity to allow Flagstaff to take out $25 million with bonds dedicated to affordable housing solutions, also failed with 54 percent voting no.

“People feel even stronger today about increasing the minimum wage than they felt in 2016 because they see the outcome, the strong economy for local business,” city councilmember Eva Putzova said.

As a result of Prop 418’s loss, Flagstaff’s minimum wage will continue to steadily increase to $15.50 an hour by 2022. Had the proposition passed, the city’s minimum wage would have been made the same as the state's.

“This was never an issue of small business and a handful of nonprofits who were directing this campaign against the minimum wage -- this was big-time funders,” said Joe Bader, campaign committee member with Flagstaff Needs a Raise.

Prop 422 would have authorized the Flagstaff City Council to issue and sell $25 million worth of bonds in an attempt to wrestle with the city’s problem with the high cost of housing. The issue has hung over the city and council for decades, but critics said this solution was not direct in how it attempted to handle that problem.

The closest the proposition got to an explanation was that it would create additional affordable housing units through “construction, rehabilitation, redevelopment and acquisition of land for housing units; and the related infrastructure.”

The Flagstaff Realtors Association president said the proposition’s ambiguity left many in the association unsure on how they felt about the attempted solution, and so the members did not come out with an official stance on it.

EDUCATION PROPS

Flagstaff Unified School District saw the approval of Proposition 423, a bond measure to take out a $75 million loan to support the district’s capital projects, and Proposition 424, an override to extend its current property tax for money going toward its operational budget.

Of the $75 million, nearly $30 million will go toward the renovation of Mount Elden Middle School and the replacement of a to-be-determined school in the district. Other expected expenses include major maintenance to improve other school buildings within the district and increase technology access for students.

The continuation of the FUSD property tax approved by Prop 424 would generate $8.5 million per year across the first four years of its seven-year life span. As the money currently is used, the district will direct the funds toward keeping class sizes below the state average, providing full-day kindergarten and maintaining special education programs.

However, Coconino Community College’s continuation of a secondary property tax failed as 56.38 percent voted against Proposition 417 with 50.3 percent of votes counted.

Originally implemented in 1999 after voters approved the bond in 1997, the property tax allowed for the construction of CCC’s Lone Tree campus. As of 2019, the bond will be paid back in full.

Had the override passed, it would have generated $2.2 million annually for CCC. The college was looking to initiate new career and technical education programs as well as enhance educational services in other communities in the county such as Page, Tuba City and Williams.

TRANSPORTATION PROPS

Proposition 419, the roadway, pedestrian, bicycle and safety improvements proposition, passed with 12,284 or 64 percent of votes, with 50 percent of the votes counted.

The passing of the proposition renews a sales tax that has been in effect since 2000. Money from the sales tax has allowed the city to construct the pedestrian bridge over Cedar Avenue and to connect the Flagstaff Urban Trail System to Buffalo Park.

Proposition 420 was a new sales tax that envisioned creating a overpass connecting Lone Tree Road to Route 66 over the train tracks. At the time of publication, it was too close to call: 9,869 people had voted yes on the proposition while 9,172 people had voted no with 50.2 percent of the votes counted.

Proposition 421 focused on improving the public bus and transit system. The improvements would increase the frequency of buses to every 15 to 2 minutes during the week and every 30 minutes on weekends.

The race for 421 was also close; with 50 percent of the votes counted, there were 9,724 votes against the proposition and 9,301 votes in support.

JUDICIAL MERIT APPOINTMENT

With 52.46 percent of voters approving and 53.2 percent of votes counted, Coconino County Superior Court judicial elections appear headed to a switch from normal elections to a merit-based selection conducted by several different agencies including the Arizona State Bar, the County Board of Supervisors and a committee chaired by a member of the Arizona Supreme Court.

The merit-based appointments would be decided by the governor, but that system would replace the current process where judges go through normal election channels to get their seats on the court. The process would naturally occur once Coconino County hit a population of 250,000, but that isn’t expected to happen for some time.

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Sun staff reporter Adrian Skabelund contributed to this story.

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