Kristi Brown: Support 2A and 2B | SteamboatToday.com

Kristi Brown: Support 2A and 2B

Since 1993, the city of Steamboat Springs has collected a half-cent tax on every dollar spent in the city to be used for public education. This half-cent sales and use tax for education is an innovative way to overcome the limitations on funding imposed on public school districts by the Colorado School Finance Act and an integral funding source for our public school system. Question 2A asks voters to renew the existing tax for education for another 10 years.

The Education Fund consistently has been used to reduce class size across the district, expand the Spanish program to the elementary level, improve technology throughout the district, construct a sixth-grade wing and the current addition to the middle school, and pay for a grant writer who has raised $4.8 million for Steamboat Springs and other Routt County schools since 1998. The half-cent sales tax has helped fund new buses for the district, an artificial turf field at the high school, universal playgrounds at both elementary schools, the Yampa Valley Science School for sixth-graders, and the youth orchestra. Sales tax for education dollars have allowed for additional counselors, middle school mentors, and district-wide English Language Learner and Gifted and Talented programs.

The sales tax initiative has passed all three times it came before voters. People in this community are committed to education and demand excellence. Most people feel that it’s well worth it to pay a little bit extra on each purchase to help improve public education, foster economic stability in our community and protect our property values. Tourist contributions to the Education Fund each year are estimated at between 55 percent and 70 percent of the monies collected.

Throughout the years, students in Steamboat Springs have been very fortunate to benefit from the products and programs funded by the Education Fund. Many folks who live in the region, who work and shop in Steamboat, but whose kids go to schools in other districts have begun asking if we may consider their needs in granting funds collected through the half-cent sales tax. The Education Fund Board and the Steamboat Springs City Council have agreed to allow Hayden and South Routt School Districts to present requests for funding to the Fund Board if Steamboat Springs voters approve. As voters, you will get to decide whether or not other Routt County school districts will be able to bring requests for funding to the Fund Board through Referendum 2B. Please keep in mind that the other districts will not automatically receive any particular amount or percentage of the funds. If 2B passes, it would be up to the Fund Board to consider the requests on a case-by-case basis with no obligation to fund any outside requests.

Although the half-cent sales tax traditionally has been popular with Steamboat voters, I am concerned that the state of the economy, as well as the feeling among many that we generally are overtaxed, may threaten the passage of the half-cent tax this year. As parents and community members, please get out there and talk to your friends, neighbors and co-workers. Remind people this is not a new tax or a tax increase of any kind. Encourage others to support our kids and our schools by voting “yes” on 2A and 2B.

Kristi Brown

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