Rio operating budget referendum passes; area school boards get new faces

April 3, 2019

RIO -- The Rio Community School District referendum has apparently succeeded.

Unofficial results from Tuesday’s election from all 10 of the Columbia County precincts that had the referendum on the ballot, show the “yes” votes totaling 625 and the “no” votes totaling 298.

In the village of Rio, where the largest number of ballots was cast, the referendum’s victory was lopsided, with 241 votes in favor and 61 against.

Voters were asked to approve a three-year referendum allows Rio Community School District to exceed the revenue limit by $1 million in 2019-20, $1,175,000 in 2020-21 and $1,250,000 in the third year.

Under the referendum, Rio administrators project the tax rate in 2019-20 will be $12.04 per $1,000 of equalized value or $1,806 on a $150,000 home, an increase of $78 from 2018-19. They project that tax rates in the following two school years would be $12.07 and $12.38. Rio Community School District residents currently pay $11.52 or $1,728 on a $150,000 home.

Rio voters had approved a three-year referendum in 2016 -- with 897 voting yes and 447 no -- allowing the district to exceed the revenue limit by $825,000 in 2016-17, $900,000 the next year and $975,000 for this school year.

Portage School Board

Voters in the Portage Community School District on Tuesday chose from three candidates running for two open city seats on the Portage School Board, which had not gained a new member since 2015.

Matt Foster ran for re-election for the city seat he’s held since 2010 and faced challenges from Mark Fahey and Michael O’Grady. Foster had 1,744 votes and Fahey had 1,890 votes making them the winners. O’Grady had 679 votes.

Chad Edwards ran unopposed for the rural seat he’s held since 2013 and had 2,149 votes.

The winners will serve three-year terms on the seven-member board.

Rio School Board

Three candidates actively sought two open seats on the Rio School Board.

Incumbent Doug Shippert faced challenges from Andrea Becker and Beth Laufenberg. Becker had 586 votes, Shippert 459 and Laufenberg had 326.

Travis Heiman was on Tuesday’s ballot but had announced in February that, for personal reasons, he no longer would pursue a seat. He still received 116 votes.

Pardeeville School Board

Four candidates sought three open seats on the Pardeeville School Board.

Incumbents Harold Balsiger, Tim Kath and Margo Pufahl were challenged on the ballot by Bret Achterberg. Balsiger fell short of re-election with 697 votes. Kath had 898 votes, Achterberg had 860 votes and Pufahl had 740 votes.

Montello School Board

Six candidates sought three open seats on the Montello School Board.

They were Theresa Campion, Alma Paul, Danielle Pierce, Cindy Bloom, Doug Coddington and the race’s lone incumbent, Andy Zellmer.

--Reporter Noah Vernau contributed to this story