Monday, August 27, 2012

Older residents dominated the polls in the vote this month to renew the local-option sales tax in the City of Carroll, continuing a trend in which people over 50 have made up about three-fourths of the electorate in city and school elections during the past two years.

According to official figures from the Carroll County Auditor’s Office, of the 785 total voters in the local-option election, 638 (81.3 percent) were 50 and older, and 391 (50 percent) were 65 and older.

The 1-cent sales tax passed with 71 percent of the vote.

Of the 774 registered voters in the City of Carroll who cast ballots in the Carroll municipal election in November 2011, 85 percent were 50 and older.

What’s more, 50 percent of the voters in the election for three council seats and mayor were 65 and older.

One striking number to emerge from an analysis of the Carroll city elections in November 2011: Only 11 voters — just 1 percent — were 30 or under.

“It’s not good,” said Carroll attorney Art Neu, a former mayor and lieutenant governor. “Maybe when people get older they’ll be more serious.”

Neu said younger adults are often busy with children. But issues at city hall and with the schools matter to young families, he added.

“Most of these issues are important to their kids,” Neu said.

Carroll voters on in August 2011 overwhelmingly turned down a financing referendum for a planned $7.4 million library, effectively sending back to elected officials and library volunteers a decision on whether to build a new public lending facility, add onto the current one or do nothing at all.

The referendum that would have allowed the city to issue up to $6 million in general-obligation bonds failed with 22 percent, or 643 voters in support, and 78 percent or 2,282 people casting ballots against the public measure. The referendum required a super-majority of 60 percent for passage.

According to the Daily Times Herald analysis of official Carroll County Auditor’s Office voter data from the election, 71.1 percent of those casting ballots were 50 and older, 38 percent were 65 and older and 7.7 percent were 30 and under.

Voters between 31 and 49 comprised 20.9 percent of the vote.

Carroll Community School District voters last September soundly defeated a plan for a new stadium, estimated to cost more than $5 million. In that contest, which also involved the election of Kim Tiefenthaler, Dan Tiefenthaler and LaVern Dirkx to the school board, 67 percent or 1,663 people voted against the stadium plan with 33 percent or 802 people for the new athletic project. The measure, officially a proposed physical plant and equipment levy of $1 per $1,000 assessed property valuation not to exceed 10 years, needed a simple majority to pass.

According to The Daily Times Herald analysis of election data, 72.4 percent of voters in that Carroll Community School District election were 50 and older.

Just 4 percent of the voters in the school election were age 30 and under. Again, the most muscular voting bloc was the senior vote, as those 65 and older made up 36.1 percent of the vote. The 31-to-49 category represented 23.5 percent of the vote.

According to the U.S. census, of Carroll’s 10,103 residents, 20 percent are 65 and older. Meanwhile, 24 percent of Carroll’s population is 18 and under.