Steamboat Springs School Board decides against tax question | SteamboatToday.com

Steamboat Springs School Board decides against tax question

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

Jack Weinstein

— 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.

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"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 jweinstein@SteamboatToday.com

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.

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