School employees to get raises

Hayden voters approve tax increase


— Hayden teachers will be getting a raise thanks to a "yes" vote for a $154,000 tax override on Tuesday's ballot.

The ballot issue passed 380 to 275.

"I just want to thank the Progress for Education committee that organized this win for us. They were a dream-team committee," Hayden School Superintendent Scott Mader said. "The teachers made a lot of phone calls and were really dedicated to this, too."

The budget shortfall became a call for help from taxpayers more than a year ago when the Hayden School District was forced to cut its staff by one social studies teacher.

Hayden schools receive $6,000 a year per student in funding from the state of Colorado. When the district lost several dozen students, its budget was cut by $140,000.

"We are experiencing some hardship because of a decrease in enrollment," Mader said during the campaign. "We lost students, but we have to keep the same number of teachers and programs.

"We have already cut staff and costs."

Referendum 3A was the only issue on this year's ballot that affected Hayden residents solely. The local property tax increase will be used to supplement the Hayden School District budget with an extra $154,000.

All school district staff will receive raises, including custodians, bus drivers, secretaries and teachers.

The pay hike will make the Hayden School District more competitive with surrounding districts. Currently, Hayden teachers start at $24,133 a year, compared to $29,075 in Steamboat Springs and $26,500 in South Routt.

Entry-level teacher salaries will be raised to $26,133.

Property owners can expect a property tax hike of $34.11 per $100,000 of property value, Routt County tax assessor Amy Williams said.

Commercial properties will experience a $54 increase per $100,000. Agricultural property will see a tax increase of 15 cents per acre for hay meadows and 5 cents per acre for non-irrigated farmland, Williams said.

Taxes and salaries will be raised retroactively to the beginning of the current school year.

The school district is legally allowed to ask taxpayers for a tax override for up to 20 percent of its budget. Hayden has reached the maximum with the passage of Referendum 3A.

Mader hopes there will not be another need.

"In general our enrollment has (stopped its decline and) leveled off this year," Mader said. "I think we are over the hump. I'm hopeful that enrollments will pick up over the next few years."


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