Steamboat Springs School Board to consider asking residents for tax increase
District seeking alternative revenue sources in anticipation of further state funding cuts
June 5, 2011
Steamboat Springs — The Steamboat Springs School District expects statewide cuts to K-12 education to continue. Accordingly, the School Board is considering whether to ask voters to approve a mill levy override — essentially a property tax increase — to generate additional revenue.
The issue is on the agenda of Monday's board meeting, which is scheduled to begin at 5:30 p.m. at the George P. Sauer Human Services Center on Seventh Street.
A mill levy override was first discussed in April. At that time, Finance Director Dale Mellor said a tax increase could generate about $900,000 annually for the district. He said the district's bond counsel, RBC Capital Markets, offered to do a survey at no cost to the district to gauge the interest of Steamboat residents in a property tax increase. Mellor said the bond counsel also recommended not waiting until 2012 because tax increases generally don't fare well in presidential election years.
School Board member Brian Kelly said he's heard mixed opinions from residents about a mill levy override.
"It's not that they don't support education," he said. "They understand what's going on with education, but they also understand what tough straits we're all in."
The district cut $500,000 from its budget for the 2009-10 school year, $2 million this year, and is looking at cutting about $800,000, or 4 percent of its general fund, next year. The School Board also will consider adopting its 2011-12 budget tonight.
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In April, School Board member Laura Anderson said she was encouraged that voters in the Hayden and South Routt school districts approved mill levy overrides last year.
Steamboat residents approved mill levy overrides in 2001 and 2006 to help the district to attract and retain teachers. Those overrides combine to generate nearly $1.5 million annually.
During the April meeting, Mellor said based on $400,000 of residential property value, Steamboat homeowners would pay $500.97 in total annual property taxes for the district's mill rate of 15.734 mills this year. But Mellor added that the district expects property values to go down, which would reduce the amount property taxes were increased.
Kelly said the district needs the money, but he has his doubts that voters would approve an override. He said it just might not be the right time to ask residents to spend more money, even for schools.
Also tonight, the School Board will recognize Steamboat Springs Middle School art teacher Susanmarie Oddo, who was named the district's Teacher of the Year. A reception for Oddo will start at the beginning of the meeting.
— To reach Jack Weinstein, call 970-871-4203 or email jweinstein@SteamboatToday.com