Hayden voters approve property tax by 10 votes

Voters narrowly approve revenue-boosting measure for schools

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— By just 10 votes, Hayden voters approved a property tax increase that will generate additional revenue for the school district.

Routt County Clerk and Recorder Kay Weinland said Tuesday that Hayden residents cast 505 ballots in favor of Referendum 3B, while 495 opposed it — a 50.5 percent to 49.5 percent margin.

The measure is expected to generate $321,473 annually for the district for four years.

Hayden School District Su­­perintendent Mike Luppes said the district was happy with the results.

“We are pleased with the fact that there will be some extra monies for next year,” he said. “Obviously, it was definitely close. I’ve had some people talk with me about their concerns. Now, it’s up to the school district to prove we can wisely use that money and earn that trust back that we can provide a good, positive education for the students in this community.”

After the Nov. 2 election, just 14 votes separated approval and rejection of the property tax increase, but 27 provisional ballots and a small number of unsigned mail ballots were yet to be counted.

Weinland said certification of election results to make them official is scheduled for Thursday.

“But it’s not going to change,” she said. “There’s nothing that will change it at this point.”

And she added that there wouldn’t be a mandatory recount because the margin exceeded 0.5 percent, the state-mandated threshold.

Luppes said any decision about how to spend the additional revenue would go through the Hayden School Board, but some of the funds would be used immediately. He said the district was in dire need of a new hot water heater at the secondary campus, which would cost about $16,000.

Luppes added that most of the funding would be used to address future expected statewide budget cuts. The district cut about $420,000 in the 2010-11 general fund budget because of reduced funding from the state, increased costs of employee health insurance and retirement benefits, salary step increases for employees and a decrease in student numbers.

“A lot of the funding will be used to offset some of the projected decreases in funding and enabling us to still do some of the things we’ll need to do,” Luppes said. “At this point we’ll be conservative until we know exactly what we’re looking at for next year’s budget.”

The School Board has to certify the 2011 calendar year mill levy at its Dec. 15 meeting, Luppes said. He said residents would start paying the additional property tax Jan. 1 and the district would start receiving revenue in March.

The property tax increase will cost residents $24.79 per $100,000 of assessed residential value. It will cost $90.31 per $100,000 of assessed commercial value.

South Routt School District voters approved a similar property tax increase to generate an additional $354,357 for five years for the district, but by a wider margin. More than 56 percent of residents supported the measure.

— To reach Jack Weinstein, call 871-4203 or e-mail jweinstein@steamboatpilot.com

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