Steamboat school administrators may recommend $12.9M bond, mill levy at Tuesday meeting | SteamboatToday.com

Steamboat school administrators may recommend $12.9M bond, mill levy at Tuesday meeting

On July 18, Steamboat Springs School Board will weigh the best way to proceed with capital needs across the school district.

Steamboat Springs School Superintendent Brad Meeks and Finance Director Mark Rydberg on July 18 are expected to recommend that the school board seek voter approval in the November election for a $12.9 million bond issue to tackle three significant overdue maintenance projects, plus a $1 million ongoing capital construction mill levy intended to help ensure the district doesn't fall behind on facilities maintenance in the future.

However, school administrators will recommend that the board defer the pursuit of more expensive capital construction projects — such as a possible new elementary school and adding new classroom pods at the existing schools — to a future election cycle.

"We want to make sure the community understands this doesn't solve everything; we're seeking more time to make better decisions," Meeks said.

The new funding measure represents phase one of what Meeks and Rydberg will recommend to the school board. Phase II calls for the district to spend the fall and winter of 2017 researching and completing a long-term comprehensive infrastructure plan.

The 10-year bond would fund turf and track replacement and stadium improvements at the Gardner Field athletic complex at the high school. In addition, it would fund installation, upgrades and replacements of inadequate heating, ventilation and air conditioning equipment at the middle school. And, perhaps most significantly, it would enable roof replacements at Strawberry Park Elementary School, Steamboat Springs Middle School, Steamboat Springs High School, the district office and the transportation building.

Phase III, which would come in 2018, at the earliest, would address the potential of existing facilities and/or the need for renovated or additional facilities to enhance education programming. But, there's a good chance  the third phase in the plan would be pushed farther back to keep the implied funding request out of the way of the renewal of the half-cent sales tax that raised $3.4 million in 2017, Meeks said.

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School Board President Joey Andrew said board members are aware of the administration's recommendation, adding he thinks it has merit. It is appealing, he said, because it demonstrates board members want to be "good stewards of the fiscal wealth of the school district and of the community."

Meeks and Rydberg estimate the $12.9 million, 10-year bond, combined with the $1 million ongoing capital construction mill levy, will represent a net tax increase of $17 per year per $500,000 of residential valuation, and $344 per year on $500,000 of commercial property. But, those numbers are somewhat misleading, because the tax increases would be applied at a time when the overall tax base of the district is growing — if they didn't approve the new school funding mechanisms, many taxpayers would likely see their property taxes go down in the near term, Rydberg said.

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205, email tross@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ThomasSRoss1

If you go

What: Steamboat Springs School Board facilities workshop on Nov. 2017 ballot question, followed by a special meeting to consider  authorizing school administrators to draft ballot language for a tax question

When: 5:30p.m., Tuesday, July 18

Where: District Board Room 325 Seventh St.,

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