College contemplates 'de-Brucing' measure

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— The Colorado Mountain College system is contemplating seeking relief from the TABOR Amendment, following many other tax-supported Colorado entities which have successfully "de-Bruced."

The board of directors of the CMC system has not decided whether an initiative would be on the November ballot, although is expected to make a decision at its meeting in June, according to Alpine Campus Dean Robert Ritschel.

Officials from Colorado Mountain College, which also has campuses in Aspen, Rifle, Roaring Fork, Summit County, Vail and Eagle Valley and Leadville, have been holding meetings at the campuses to gauge public reaction.

Attendance has been a bit low at the meetings, Ritschel said.

"My feeling is that the public response has not been very strong at any of these meetings because the issue is not yet on the ballot," Ritschel said.

He said if it does get on the ballot, the college can get concrete information out.

The Taxpayer's Bill of Rights (TABOR) is a state constitutional amendment requiring that an entity return any excess funds over its revenue limit. Hundreds of school districts, libraries and cities, including the Steamboat Springs and Hayden school districts, Routt County, several county fire districts and the East Routt Library District have all successfully asked voters for relief from TABOR.

CMC receives 3.97 property tax mills from the property owners in the RE-2 school district boundary. If the TABOR amendment passes, Ritschel said the mill levy would probably not be raised.

Property tax owners would not receive a yearly $8.50 refund per $100,000 of property, however, college spokesman Joe Marquez said. The money would be kept by the college, with a total of $4.2 million in the first year, Marquez said. The college has a $28 million budget, he said.

It is up to the board to decide how the money would be used if a ballot issue passes. Several possibilities have been presented at the public meetings. The options include having a cost-of-living pay increase to attract and retain staff, modernizing the college for Internet-age education, implementing a plan to improve academic achievement and student success, and improving facilities.

Ritschel said that public response has been good so far. He said it is encouraging that the local public schools have successfully gained relief from TABOR.

"It's gratifying from an educational standpoint. We feel like we're in good company," he said. "We feel like we need the public to know why we're doing it and what we're going to benefit from it."

The board is scheduled to make a decision at its June 1 board meeting.


-- To reach Jennifer Bartlett call 871-4204 or e-mail jbartlett@amigo.net

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