Steamboat Springs School Board decides against tax question

Steamboat district will not ask voters to consider mill levy override in November


School Board to meet again Tuesday

The Steamboat Springs School Board will meet Tuesday night in executive session to consider confidential documents related to reviewing applications for the superintendent vacancy. Superintendent Shalee Cunningham’s last day is June 30 after accepting the same position with the Novato Unified School District in Marin County, Calif.

— The Steamboat Springs School Board decided Monday night not to ask voters to consider a property tax increase in November.

The School Board first started discussing in April whether to ask voters to consider a tax increase, or mill levy override, to generate about $900,000 additional revenue annually. The district would have used the funding to address the statewide K-12 budget cuts it expects to continue in future years.

The district has cut its budget each of the past three years, including a more than $732,000 reduction, about 3.5 percent, in the 2011-12. The School Board voted, 4-0, to adopt that budget Monday. School Board member Laura Anderson didn’t attend the meeting.

School Board members spoke against a mill levy override.

“I don’t think there’s a very legitimately strong case for a mill levy override right now, considering the state of the state,” School Board member Lisa Brown said. “I think our energy should be focused on other things besides raising money through taxes right now.”

The School Board didn’t take any formal action opposing an override.

“I think what we wanted to find out was whether we had five board members that support this and I think we don’t so we’ll move on,” Superintendent Shalee Cunningham said.

School Board member Denise Connelly said it would be a difficult time to ask the community for a tax increase. Connelly added that she would like more information about where the district could make cuts in the future before going for a tax increase.

School Board member Brian Kelly also emphasized the challenging economy and the impact it has had on residents.

“It’s a tough time to go for a tax. I don’t think that takes a genius to figure that out,” he said. “It’s going to be even tougher next year.”

Finance Director Dale Mellor said RBC Capital Markets, the district’s bond counsel, suggested that if the district moved forward with a mill levy override question, it should do so this year. Mellor said the bond counsel told him that getting tax increases improved during a presidential election year is more difficult.

Steamboat voters previously approved overrides in 2001 and 2006. They generate about $1.5 million annually for the district.

Mellor said Steamboat could ask for as much as $2.5 million more in overrides. School districts have the authority to assess property tax increases at 25 percent of assessed valuation.

Also Monday:

■ School Board President Robin Crossan made a statement about being a plaintiff in a federal lawsuit filed May 23 to challenge Colorado’s Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, or TABOR. She was listed as a member of the School Board.

“I learned many months ago that this case was in the works,” she said. “I had many people in touch with me asking to support this. I decided I was interested in this.”

Then she read a paragraph from the lawsuit that states that not all of the offices and groups listed with the names of the individual plaintiffs have taken official positions on the litigation. It also states that the plaintiffs don’t necessarily speak for the offices for which they’re listed as representatives.

“I will not answer any questions publicly about it,” Crossan said.

■ The School Board approved Tracy Stoddard as the assistant principal of Soda Creek and Strawberry Park elementary schools. Stoddard has been with the district for 14 years, the last four as a gifted and talented teacher.

To reach Jack Weinstein, call 970-871-4203 or email


Scott Wedel 5 years, 11 months ago

School Board President Robin Crossan made a statement about being a plaintiff in a federal lawsuit filed May 23 to challenge Colorado’s Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, or TABOR. She was listed as a member of the School Board.

“I will not answer any questions publicly about it,” Crossan said.

If the above quotes are accurate then it is an unacceptable situation. She cannot claim join a group publicly noting she is a member of the school board and also claim it is a personal decision not for public discussion. If an elected official mentions their elected office then that elected official needs to be willing to answer constituent's questions about that issue.

I will vote against elected official that is so arrogant to claim the prestige of their elected office while also claiming they are above answering any questions about it.


pitpoodle 5 years, 11 months ago

I would refuse to vote for anyone who seeks to deny taxpayers their only way to keep government from continuing to raise our taxes at every turn. Maybe she should resign now and save us the trouble.


Fred Duckels 5 years, 11 months ago

Asking for more money right now is a no brainer, too bad that the AH housing gurus and those seeking airline subsidies can't figure that out.


sledneck 5 years, 11 months ago

Not asking for more taxes is good. I'm pleasantly surprised.

Wanting to screw with TABOR... bad, very bad. Doesn't TABOR go way beyond schools?

A public figure refusing to answer public questions about something that is a public concern... bad. Unacceptable, in fact.


Scott Wedel 5 years, 11 months ago

Sledneck, Well, a deeply cynical person could argue that there is one person on the school board that recognizes that a tax increase would lose at the ballot so wants to remove the need for voters to approve new taxes or tax increases.

And won't answer questions about that.

The suit alleges that TABOR, which prohibits the legislature from raising taxes without a vote of the people, limits the General Assembly's power in violation of the U.S. Constitution guarantee that states have a "republican" government, in which the authority to govern is given to elected officials.

So somehow requiring the republican form of Colorado state government which has two houses and a governor follow a state constitution modified by the voters of Colorado is federally unconstitutional??? Maybe that is why she won't answer questions about it. She believes the federal constitution prevents Colorado voters from limiting the power of government which I could see is something that no locally elected official would want to discuss.

This lawsuit is awful public policy since it would remove the ability of voters to directly affect state policy. If these people think that TABOR is such a bad idea then propose a new plan and demonstrate to the voters why their plan is better. But arguing that requiring voters to approve tax increases makes governing impossible is more of an argument that those people are so addicted to taxing and spending that they should resign from office.


pitpoodle 5 years, 11 months ago

Robin Crossan, president of the Steamboat Springs RE-2 Board of Education, Steamboat Springs is the way she is listed on the law suit. All other Board of Ed members should insist she remove her so-called credentials and not implicate SBS in any way. Or as I said, she could resign - no questions asked.


sledneck 5 years, 11 months ago

Remember in the movie Braveheart when the guy said "An attack on the King's men is the same as an attack on the King." ?? Well, an attack on the taxpayer bill of rights is the same (in my book) as an attack on the taxpayers.

People whom the taxpayers have authorized to educate their kids should not be doing an "end run" around those taxpayers. But I guess therin lies the problem; it wasn't the "taxpayers " but rather the VOTERS who elected this person. What's the solution? Taxpayers vote; everybody else stay home and catch up on your American History. Untill that happens this kind of stuff is gonna continue.


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