Steamboat officials critical of anti-tax ballot measures

They say initiatives would force further cuts and result in fewer services

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— Routt County government and Steamboat Springs school officials are critical of three ballot measures they say would affect revenues, require additional budget cuts and reduce services.

Colorado voters in Novem­ber will consider Proposition 101 and Amendments 60 and 61, which are citizen-led initiatives aimed at decreasing taxes and reducing government spending.

The Steamboat Springs School District hosted two community budget meetings Mon­day to discuss how the measures would reduce district revenue. The Routt County Board of Com­mis­sioners heard a presentation about the ballot measures Tues­day.

School district officials say Proposition 101, which would reduce vehicle fees and taxes, would cost the school system $1.23 million in revenues throughout a four-year period. Amendment 60, which would repeal all voter-approved property tax increases above limits set by the Taxpayers Bill of Rights, would result in the loss next year of mill levy overrides totaling $1.5 million. Amendment 60 also would require school districts to cut their mill levies in half by 2020 with the expectation that the state would cover the difference.

Based on preliminary estimates from The Bell Policy Center, of Denver, reducing property tax rates would cost the state $1 billion, in addition to the estimated loss of $1.7 million from Proposition 101.

Dale Mellor, the school district’s finance director, said with the state already cutting to balance this year’s budget, he doesn’t know where the additional money would come from.

Superintendent Shalee Cun­ningham said if the measures passed, “education finance in Colorado goes down the tubes.”

Routt County Finance Di­­rector Dan Strnad told commissioners Tuesday that the county would lose about $2 million with full implementation of Proposition 101. He said Amendment 60 could result in $1.67 to $3.9 million in lost revenue from voter-approved mill-levy overrides that provides funding for conservation, services for residents with disabilities, and museums and historic preservation.

Supporters of the measures have said they would force the government to operate more efficiently and cut spending.

“It’s our general belief that the state of Colorado has enough money to spend,” Marty Neilson, president of the Colorado Union of Taxpayers, told The Associated Press last week. “They can spend more wisely, or even cut their spending.”

But local officials express concern about the reach of the ballot measures. For example, Routt County Manager Tom Sullivan told commissioners Tuesday that Amendment 61, which would require local governments to get voter approval to borrow and repay the debt in 10 years, would prohibit the county from repairing Routt County Road 14. He also said the county simply couldn’t afford to repay an $18 million bond in 10 years.

Commissioner Nancy Staho­viak said it’s important for the community to understand that the county would be able to provide fewer county services if voters approved the measures.

Commissioner Doug Mon­ger said the approval of the measures would be a financial windfall for taxpayers.

“But I’m not sure you’d want to be here because there won’t be anything left,” he said.

Cunningham said Tuesday that most of the district’s efforts to educate the public about the ballot measures would happen when the next school year begins in August. But, she said, the measures likely would be part of a legislative update scheduled for the May 24 School Board meeting.

Parent Mary Darcy, who has three children in the district, attended the community budget workshop Monday night. She said if more cuts were required — next year’s budget has been trimmed about $1.9 million with the expectation for further cuts in upcoming years — the community needs to start coming up with creative solutions to raise money for the schools.

“If we keep cutting things out of the school budget at the rate we’re going, and especially if these (ballot measures) pass, I’m afraid we will destroy what’s so great about our schools,” Darcy said.

Comments

Duke_bets 4 years, 4 months ago

yampa - It seems that you support more cuts to the education system in Colorado.

Duke bets that per capita, Colorado is well behind a majority of the states when it comes to intellectual output of students. Duke bets that per capita, the state is also well behind a majority of other states when it comes to athletic output on the next level.

I agree that there needs to be major cuts, but I don't agree with those coming from the education system.

And, Cunningham's salary was a signed contract. With the amount of crap that she deals with, I doubt she is overpaid.

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Cooke 4 years, 4 months ago

Duke - CO is 34th, just squeaking by Texas and New Mexico. Pretty low on the list.

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sledneck 4 years, 4 months ago

Big suprise! People in government want to "maintain revenue". I'm shocked... SHOCKED!

What people who suck at the public nipple WANT doesn't concern me one darn bit. If they aren't getting what they WANT they should move to the private sector.

People in Hell WANT ice water.

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greenwash 4 years, 4 months ago

George are you on a pension now? Just wondering.

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Duke_bets 4 years, 4 months ago

yampa and sled - Duke bets you both support medical marijuana and think it's just a plant to help heal all ills. Do you think that has anything to do with the intellectual output? Duke bets that per capita, CO is near the top for drug abuse, yet a majority are supporting all the dope shops.

It's too bad that every citizen of legal age gets a vote.

Education is not the place to make cuts. They are removing standardized testing for a reason. The government is afraid of the outcome from the proposed cuts.

One last question. What is the definition of overpaid?

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TWill 4 years, 4 months ago

I'll double-down on Duke's bets. The school system in the entire state (not just Steamboat and Routt County) is clearly sub-par in both academics and athletics when compared to other regions and states in our country. Why is that?

I'll guess (and maybe Duke will bet) that it has a lot to do with the overall laid back attitude that prevails (particularly in the mountains). Are drugs part of it? Maybe. That attitude makes for a nice place to live as a grown adult, but maybe not the best environment to raise our kids and mold their outlook on life. You know what they say about the "cool" parents and teachers...

YVB- can you please elaborate on the "Country Club" comment? I think I know the point you're making, but am not sure.

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Scott Wedel 4 years, 4 months ago

These measures are about eliminating government, not making it more efficient.

It is utterly irresponsible to say that local taxes for schools can be deeply cut and the state will magically have the money to fund schools.

It makes no sense to simply outlaw borrowing by governments. Borrowing for major infrastructure projects makes sense.

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Duke_bets 4 years, 4 months ago

Twill - Let's play some cards. There is a point to our statements. A few, maybe the majority nowadays, will disagree, but the logic is fairly simple.

Maybe the logic part is why others disagree. Too consumed in a political stance to understand what's up.

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exduffer 4 years, 4 months ago

Last time I checked athletics was not a requirement to graduate from high school, phys ed maybe but not athletics. Where would various states rank in school funding if athletics were taken out of the equation?

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blue_spruce 4 years, 4 months ago

"...If you don't you realize that these organizations are you, your neighbors and community, then nothing I can say will change your mind...."

schools. military. fire / police. roads and infrastructure....the list goes on and on. without taxes we could have none of these things. the fabric of our society would come apart very quickly without "government". and the more we cut, the more (formerly government) workers become unemployed, further depressing our fragile economy.

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TWill 4 years, 4 months ago

Duke- I think it has something to do with the ability to see the forest through the trees. And many educational bureaucrats/ politicians are not able to do that.

exduff- do you really think that eliminating athletics would improve anything about our educational system? It could be argued that athletics are as significant to the overall educational experience as academics.

The little that could be saved financially by such an absurd suggestion would never come close to compensate all the intangibles that athletics provides the students (not just the athletes), teachers, coaches and overall community.

Use the Sailors football team from last fall as an example (although you could use any different sport from any different school too). Did you see how the entire community and school came together during the team's playoff run?

Sorry to say, but the math, english or any other academic department are not capable of generating such a buzz among the student body and beyond. I'm not implying that we don't need to support academic acheivements as much as (or more than) athletics- beacuse we do. But it isn't just the players on the field, court, mat, etc. that gain life long experiences from athletics.

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Matthew Stoddard 4 years, 4 months ago

Cunningham on an hourly pay = overtime pay. But, it sounds like someone already knows what a School Superintendent goes thru each school year (and summer) & is willing to bid for the job at a lower price. Go for it!

As for our schools, the last ones built from the ground up were the Strawberry Park Elementary & Middle Schools. Both were built approximately 1981-ish. (I believe HS Class of 86 was the last to graduate 8th Grade in 1982 from the old Jr. High on 7th St.) Since those were built, all existing schools have had 1, maybe 2 major renovations/add-ons instead of building new schools. Those buildings are decades old. Most of those renovations came during the school year (I was a Freshman when the 1st reno I've seen happened, adding on the North Wing onto the HS) and the kids had to hole up where they could. Steamboat's public schools are no Country Club, by a long shot.

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Matthew Stoddard 4 years, 4 months ago

Nope- went to Catholic school 1st half-ish, then SSJHS & SSHS. Been in the military, though. And when I go to the HS for the week of the Dance Concert, I've never or heard any of the kids there acting undisciplined or disrespectful. They don't half-step march to chow or class, but they aren't riding motorcycles down the halls, either. They're acting like teenagers.

A lot of those kids are the kids of people on this site, too, I'm sure. Fred's kids went to school with me here. Ask him if he thinks his kids got it too soft. They seemed to have done just fine for themselves, thanks to the schooling & their upbringing, as far as I can tell.

As for summer work, that's the best time to get work done! No kids around to get in the way of things needing to be done. No phones ringing as you're trying to get admin work done. (And when I say "No" I mean "a lot less") Remember- I went to school here and have seen it in action. The schools don't just collect dust in the summer. I'm sure actual parents on this site can let you know how it goes nowadays.

Kids are more savvy at a younger age than before, thanks to the tech available to them. They don't have to go to the library after school to read up on subjects for a report- the Google it. Time saver over what we had. The curriculum just hasn't caught up enough to truly challenge them, yet.

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JLM 4 years, 4 months ago

Oh what delicious irony!

Our elected officials have done nothing but raise taxes and fund increasingly more outrageous and destructive legislation.

Now comes the citizenry, up in arms, and uses the very rights they have been given by the same legislature to fashion their own future in open rebellion against the profligate spending of the unaccountable.

Deal with it, anybody who is feeding at the public trough.

There is a recession and every citizen has had to tighten their belt a notch or two and now so shall you, ingrates.

You have had it too good for too long and now the chickens have come home to roost.

Pass all of these initiatives and let's see who can manage a budget in a recession.

Know that the electorate is mad and ignore it at your peril.

Go tax cutters!

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John Fielding 4 years, 4 months ago

.

The legislature did not give us our rights.

We gave them permission to administer our laws and shared obligations.

They have abused that authority and it is appropriate to remind them of their proper role.

.

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exduffer 4 years, 4 months ago

Loss of $1.23 million over four years vs. $11.7 million for a rec center that we will put off until times are better. I know these are two seperate taxing entities but it comes down to the same basic point. How much do things cost in good times or bad and make sure you budget operating expenses accordingly. Were the mil levy increases supported by voters to expand and renovate our schools set to account for the operating cost of these projects?
We need to do better long term planning on not what we need but how we are going to pay for things.

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JLM 4 years, 4 months ago

The legislature created the referendum and initiative rights which are at the core of this matter.

We have become a nation devoid of any simple fiscal disciplines whose justification for expenditures which will ultimately bankrupt us is ---- waaaa, I WANT it! I WANT it! Waaaaa!

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Scott Wedel 4 years, 4 months ago

The trouble with these tax initiatives is that they start off with a decent idea (revoke TABOR overrides, reduce vehicle fees, limit borrowing) but they also include really bad ideas. You cannot cut school property taxes in half and say the state will make up the difference. It would be reasonable to limit government debt and tighten provisions so that it cannot be used to cover a general fund deficit, but it is a bad idea to simply outlaw government debt for infrastructure projects.

These initiatives are just as irresponsible as the government spending they are claiming to address.

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Jeff_Kibler 4 years, 4 months ago

George:

Is there a possible revenue source by charging fares for local bus service? I assume the local bus service is funded mainly via sales taxes and the occasional grant.

I would be interested in the pros and cons that you must have heard and/or debated on this issue.

Or is this cow too sacred?

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Scott Wedel 4 years, 4 months ago

Free bus service is considered a major amenity for tourists. Free bus service is claimed to be very highly appreciated by tourists and probably one of the most effective ways to encourage tourism. And it is also appreciated and benefits locals so it is double win.

Fares are also not free to collect. Not only does the driver have to wait and make sure to collect the fares, there is also the financial controls overhead and so on. I think it is considered to cost $.15 to $.25 per fare to collect the fare.

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sledneck 4 years, 3 months ago

Duke, No, I do not support medical marijuana. I support abolishing the FDA. It's my damn business which drugs, foods, drinks I ingest, NOT the governments! And before you start I would state, on a polygraph machine, that I do not regularly use marijuana or any other illegal substance. But if I want to, again, it's MY business. A veiled accusation that I am a doper because you disagree with my statement about taxes is a BS cheap shot, but I'm cool with it.

George, Duke, The SEC watched porn on our time while the financial crisis occured. The government purchased, in one year, $100 million worth of airline tickets that went UNUSED! San Jose spent $725,000 for a school pizza machine; since it didn't work they have taken pizza off their menu. Medicare buys shoes for foot amputee patients and walkers for parapligics. We all know I could go on with this list as fast as I could write till the world ended and not list all governments incompetence.

When we hire people to build a house for us or paint our home or sell us a car we get what we expect or we take our business elsewhere. The same should be true of government. Since government has become too big and retarded we, as citizens, have the right, indeed we have a responsibility to our posterity, to remove it from our lives.

Like a teenager who knows it all but comes to dad for $$$, government needs to be told no. Not just no but "HELL NO". When government sobers up, takes its jack-boots off our neck and returns to its constitutioinal duties it will find a supportive electorate and ample revenue.

Until then, the analogy that anti-taxers want to somehow "throw the baby out with the bathwater" is incorrect. It's not bathwater, its a corrosive, expanding poison that will destroy us all. And if the "baby" (like roads, bridges and schools) can not be seperated from the poison (waste, fraud and unconstitutional activities) then the baby needs to go out with the poison.

No sane person wants to abolish all government but if it's all or nothing we need to go back to nothing and start again.

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sledneck 4 years, 3 months ago

summer in northwest colorado, one of Gods little gifts to us lucky few.

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seeuski 4 years, 3 months ago

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/751a63d4-66a5-11df-aeb1-00144feab49a.html "Expectations are growing that France is set to remove the right to retire at 60, as it embarks on a contentious reform of its debt-laden pension system and brings public finances back into line."

The more you follow what this Administration is doing to move us towards a Unionized Big Government run "fundamentally changed" society the more we head towards this type of lousy future. Being forced to work until you are dead of old age and sadness due to loss of freedom and the death of the soul. The Unions/pensions there and here are the death of society as we new it. Riots anyone?

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Jeff_Kibler 4 years, 3 months ago

George:

Thanks for the info. I put "charging fares" out there for debate. I'm glad you mentioned the cost of regional service and how it is subsidized. By "is this cow too sacred?" I meant is it just so sacrosanct that we cannot imagine charging fares?

Regardless, your comments were quite informative.

GO BLACKHAWKS!

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