Steamboat Springs High School students Karli Quarto, from right, Morgan Kragh and Adam Reed work on a project in the computer lab at the high school Wednesday morning. School officials plan to use education sales tax revenues to install software systems that will provide students remote access to educational computer programs and functions.

Photo by Mike Lawrence

Steamboat Springs High School students Karli Quarto, from right, Morgan Kragh and Adam Reed work on a project in the computer lab at the high school Wednesday morning. School officials plan to use education sales tax revenues to install software systems that will provide students remote access to educational computer programs and functions.

Fund Board confirms ballot push

Voters likely to decide this year on education sales tax renewal

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Steamboat Springs voters likely will decide this year whether to renew the city's half-cent sales tax for education, and the decision could include whether to give some tax revenue to the Hayden and South Routt school districts.

Members of the Education Fund Board expressed unanimous support Tuesday for a renewal question on November's ballot, formally approving an issue the board has discussed for more than a year. Fund Board members agreed to make recommendations about a renewal ballot issue to the Steamboat Springs City Council, which gifts the citywide tax revenues to the Fund Board. The Fund Board administers those revenues and in turn allocates them as gifts to the Steamboat Springs School District.

Earlier this month, the Fund Board approved a budget of more than $4.4 million for the 2008-09 school year, including $1.5 million to complete renovations to Steamboat Springs Middle School.

That spending one day could spread across Routt County.

Fund Board members Tuesday also unanimously supported using some sales tax revenues, pending a renewal, for needs outside of the Steamboat Springs School District - such as Hayden and South Routt schools.

Tim Corrigan and Brian Hoza, presidents of the South Routt and Hayden school boards, respectively, attended Tuesday's meeting and pledged to support efforts for a sales tax renewal if their districts were then considered for some allocation of sales tax funds.

Oak Creek resident Russ Garrity, who led successful school funding campaigns in South Routt last fall, said South Routt was not requesting a specific dollar amount or percentage of sales tax revenue, but only the ability to "come to the table" during Fund Board discussions.

"We would like regional openness to those conversations," Hoza added. "We're at the table, too. : Anything that any of the three (school) districts do is played out in the workplaces of Steamboat Springs."

Fund Board members agreed that improving education regionally supports the entire county.

"I don't think how much money people from South Routt and Hayden spend in Steamboat is the sole reason for including them (in some Fund Board spending)," Fund Board member Sue MacCarthy said.

Several Fund Board members said a set percentage should be used to allocate half-cent sales tax revenue to Hayden and South Routt, to avoid potential future divisiveness and properly inform taxpayers.

Tom Ptach, who presided over the meeting, said those issues can be worked out and finalized in revisions to the Fund Board's intergovernmental agreement with the city and in a potential City Council ordinance related to the ballot issue and sales tax renewal.

Ptach, Mark Andersen and Fund Board accountant Paul Strong agreed to approach City Council members with recommendations for a renewal ballot issue this year and sharing some revenues with Hayden and South Routt schools.

Fund Board members also unanimously supported keeping the sales tax at a half-cent rate and proposing an extension of eight years, beginning Jan. 1, 2010. Steamboat voters initially approved the sales tax in 1993 and renewed it in 1996 and 1999. The current tax will expire Dec. 31, 2009.

- To reach Mike Lawrence, call 871-4233

or e-mail mlawrence@steamboatpilot.com

Comments

letomayo 6 years ago

if they give our districts money to other district's I won't vote for it and who's idea is that?

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another_local 6 years ago

This request has been made for the lasts several years and the Steamboat district has responded with a number of initiatives like the grant writer and shared programs where the Steamboat district picks up the entire tab or a disproportional share.

The amounts provided , IF ANY should be contigent on these other communities helping themselves with a matching tax in their own communities.

There seems to be quite a bit of confusion about how money is raised by tax generated from spending by residents of these other communities. There is not a lot of money coming from this source, and despite the comments in the artical, this factor absolutely should be driving the discussion.

Think about it: if EVERY person in South Routt (~3000) spent $1000 per year in Steamboat, the education sales tax generated would be something like $15,000. If all 2000 people in and around Hayden spent $1000 per year in the taxing district the contribution would be $10,000. If they passed the tax at home it would raise $70,000.

If the other communities want to raise money, and I think they should, they look closer to home first.

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addlip2U 6 years ago

To ensure the half cent sales tax renewal does not get defeated at election time, the Fund Board approved and hired a consulting/marketing firm to tell us, stupid voting citizens, how badly they need the taxpayers to approve the sales tax for education.

If that is how the Board waste our hard earned money, my vote is NO! No half cent tax renewal and definitely not for EIGHT years.

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bloggyblog 6 years ago

blog doesn't mind sharing the wealth. south routt and hayden are an integral part of our economy. but addlip brings up a good point. our neighboring districts could probably be run on what we waste.

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another_local 6 years ago

addlip,

Don't get hung up on the marketing issue. The reality is that it is tough to get accurate information out to the public since so few take the trouble to inform themselves.

This money significantly improves eduction in the Yampa valley. It pays for about 20 staff positions in district, mostly teachers, which allows for smaller class sizes. It also has paid for almost all of the computers for student use, spanish lanquage instruction for students, english language instruction for non-native speakers and has helped with funds for everything from the highschool theater to the debate team.

It has also helped pay for land aquisition, and building improvment and expansion.

The richness of what we can offer students would be greatly diminished without the funds.

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wz4now 6 years ago

another local, Great narrow minded analysis! As we all know a major portion of the south and west Routt population work in Steamboat (not to mention those of use considered Steamboat who pay taxes to more than one school district). These people work in positions within the Steamboat community which provide the goods and services to locals, and tourists, paying the tax. In your next analysis calculate the sales tax collected if all the Steamboat businesses were to only staffed by Steamboat residents!

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sophiehaus 6 years ago

Steamboat voters, do not give any of the half sent sales tax to other school districts. The people of Oak Creek and Hayden should vote to increase there own sales taxes to support their schools. They can start by instituting a half cent sales tax on big ticket items bought anywhere in the country, such as automobiles, RVs, recreation vehicles, boats, building materials and so on. People who live in Steamboat have to pay this tax and more. Many people in Hayden and Oak Creek do not shop in Steamboat Springs. Most people in Hayden shop in Craig. I have heard many people from both communities proudly proclaim that they shop as little as possible in Steamboat due to perceived high prices. If Steamboat votes to give these other school districts a portion of the tax, brace yourself, because Moffat County School District will come knocking.

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Books 6 years ago

I agree with anotherlocal and sophie. Unless these other communities impose a similar fundraising tax on themselves how can they expect Steamboat to pay up? I also know people who live in Hayden who proudly claim that they don't ever buy anything in Steamboat.

We should also keep in mind that people outside Steamboat don't pay city sales tax on their vehicles and building materials and any other large ticket items when they can claim delivery was outside the city.

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