Wednesday, February 2, 2005
The Education Fund Board on Wednesday tabled a vote to enact changes to its bylaws that would revise the board member appointment process and cut in half the number of Steamboat Springs School Board members who sit on the Fund Board.
The decision to postpone the vote was made after Fund Board members agreed to more closely examine the effect of the proposed changes and because there weren't enough members in attendance to obtain the required number of votes to change the bylaws.
The Fund Board, a nonprofit community group responsible for allocating about $2 million in annual revenue from the city of Steamboat Springs' half-cent sales tax for education, has discussed changing its bylaws primarily for the purpose of reducing its appearance as a unit of the Steamboat Springs School District. Almost all of the half-cent sales tax revenue is spent on capital needs, technology and other education-related programs and projects for the Steamboat Springs School District.
Last year, state lawmaker Keith King attempted to outlaw the sales tax through legislation that eventually was defeated in committee. King argued that the sales tax violated the equity sought in the state's Public School Finance Act and constitution.
Fearing future threats to the sales tax, the Fund Board has discussed ways it can distance itself from the school district it benefits. Two proposed changes are to take away the School Board's authority to appoint Fund Board members and to reduce the number of School Board members who sit on the Fund Board from four to two.
But on Wednesday, attorney Mike Holloran told Fund Board members that approving the proposed bylaw changes would do little to effectively distance the Fund Board from the Steamboat Springs School District, particularly because state lawmakers and others already know about the relationship between the two entities.
"The cat's out of the bag," Holloran said, adding that he doubts there's the political will for lawmakers to once again attempt to outlaw the sales tax. "I think, at this point, the component unit issue isn't a big issue anymore."
For accounting purposes, auditors consider the Fund Board a component unit of the Steamboat Springs School District. There would need to be significant changes to the structure of the Fund Board for auditors to remove that component unit status, Holloran said. Even with sizable changes, the component unit designation isn't likely to go away, said Dale Mellor, the district's director of operations and finances.
But at least a couple of Fund Board members said the bylaw changes aren't solely to distance the group from the school district.
"To me, these are important steps for our direction and the public," Fund Board member Jerry Kozatch said.
Board member Tom Ptach said the proposed changes will improve the functionality of the Fund Board.
The Fund Board agreed to take up the issue at a future meeting.