Tablet Opinion

Tarrant County voters proved discerning on local issues

The red tsunami that swept Texas on Tuesday was powered partly by vocal opposition to state and federal spending.

But local spending initiatives in Tarrant County somehow avoided being swept up by that wave. Voters supported ballot propositions in Fort Worth, Arlington and the Birdville and Keller school districts by significant margins.

Three Fort Worth ballot proposals authorized user fees to pay half the cost of a $450 million multipurpose arena in the Will Rogers Memorial Center. Approval ranged from 72 percent for a parking fee to 77 percent for a livestock stall fee to 79 percent for a ticket tax.

A well-funded effort by supporters, including local billionaire Ed Bass and Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price, took the arena case to the city via community meetings and a robust advertising campaign.

The fact that the new facility won’t rely on property tax dollars didn’t hurt.

In the Birdville district, voters passed a $163.2 million bond proposal with 67 percent of the vote. Granted, this was the district’s second attempt at a bond election in two years. But the modest proposal — some $20 million less than the 2013 plan — to build and renovate district facilities was also reasonable and more palatable even to debt-averse voters.

Keller district bonds faced organized opposition and even attracted some protesters to election sites during early voting. Yet a solid majority of voters — 57 percent — logged support for the $169.5 million plan to build three new campuses and update security and technology at existing facilities.

As with Birdville, the proposal was thoughtfully formulated and effectively communicated to residents.

Arlington’s $236 million bond election was the product of considerable public input and evaluation, which likely helped its passage. The propositions for streets, parks, fire facilities and libraries won’t push up tax rates, and they enjoyed support ranging from 66 to 77 percent.

Such strong approval for so many local propositions shows Tarrant County voters can be discerning and thoughtful when it counts.

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