Mayling Simpson: Vote ‘yes’ on 3C, 3D to take care of ‘your’ property
October 9, 2017
I have a large piece of red artificial track material sitting on my dining room table. It is about the size of a serving platter and very nubby.
I picked it up recently while visiting the high school to see the state of the artificial turf and track at Gardner Field. This piece was sitting along with other pieces of track scattered throughout the area.
I am a candidate for school board, and people have asked me my opinion on the upcoming school bond for $12.9 million to address critical maintenance issues and the proposed mill levy to raise about $1 million annually for ongoing maintenance. To learn more, I have been touring our district schools and studying the recommendations of the Community Committee for Education (CC4E). You will be voting on this Nov. 7.
The bond will replace roofs in five district buildings: three schools, the Seventh Street century-old district building and the transportation building. These roofs are more than 20 years old, and they leak.
To ensure acceptable indoor air quality, the bond will install a comprehensive HVAC system in the middle school, which it does not currently have. The bond will upgrade Gardner Field. The turf is 12 years old and the track is 20 years old and has reached the end of its life. I am told the field can be used one or two more years. In spring it floods, which will also be solved. Some of the bleachers are from 1965 and rickety and do not meet ADA (American Disability Act) standards.
These facilities are your facilities. They have been paid for by residential and commercial property owners before our time and currently. We own them, so we must decide when these repairs should be done.
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The cost to property owners is $3.25 per month for $500,000 of home value and $36 per month for $500,000 of commercial property value. Waiting is not a good idea. Construction costs in Colorado mountain towns have risen an average of 14.4 percent per year the past couple of years. If the bond and mill levy do not pass, funds will have to be taken from somewhere else in the district budget.
This tax is not forever. The bond will sunset in seven years, and the mill levy will continue. We pay significantly lower school taxes on residential and commercial property than South Routt, Hayden and Moffat school districts and Eagle and Summit counties. This is not a big ask.
Some wish that the school board had decided upon a larger bond to address growth and overcrowding, which is also urgent. The truth is that many options are on the table for new and expanded schools, but there is no broad consensus as yet on the best way forward. But we know a Phase 2 bond is not far behind. And the work of the CC4E is greatly appreciated and still under consideration.
Others wonder why maintenance has fallen behind. It is because the state has withheld $19 million in education funds since the 2008 recession to meet other demands of the state budget. We now know we will never get these funds.
I say we should vote “yes” for both the bond and the mill levy override because, like our homes, we do not want to subject our school infrastructure to further deterioration. A “no” vote is not wise at this time. This is your property. Treat it like your own home.