Prop BB passage could have local impacts | SteamboatToday.com

Prop BB passage could have local impacts

— Partners in Routt County officials are hopeful that funding from the passing of Proposition BB will be funneled through to their organization, which is well-qualified to receive the funds and also is facing a budget deficit.

Colorado voters last week voted in favor of allowing the state to keep $66 million in excess marijuana tax revenues it has collected, rather than returning the funds to taxpayers, and to use the money for school construction and various youth-serving organizations across the state.

About 69 percent of Colorado voters were in favor of Prop BB, while 72 percent of Routt County voters were in favor.

Of the $12 million allocated for youth-serving organizations, particularly those related to high-risk behavior prevention, $1 million will be allocated specifically to mentoring services similar to those provided by Partners, according to executive director Michelle Petix.

Petix said the $1 million would be dispersed through the Tony Grampsas Youth Service Program, an organization that Partners is already approved through and has already received other funding from.

"We're an agency that qualifies under their very strict definitions of mentoring," Petix said.

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Because Partners already has taken the steps to be a TGYS agency, Petix said she's hopeful some of the mentoring money will benefit Partners, which is in need of more funding after not receiving another grant from the state's Office of Behavioral Health.

Petix said the organization is hopeful it will receive as much as $50,000, which would secure funding for paying a case manager.

"Our need is pretty great right now, because we are looking at a pretty big deficit," said Petix, who also sits on the TGYS board, making her privy to how the money might be dispersed but unable to vote on whether it goes to Partners.

Petix said she thought local voters, who approved Proposition BB with 72 percent in favor, would be pleased to know that some of the money could be used locally.

"It does make a difference to Routt County," Petix said.

Though $41 million of the excess revenue will be used by the state to fund school construction projects, it is unlikely any of it will benefit the Steamboat Springs School District, which is hopeful to begin a construction project in the coming years to address overcrowding.

The $41 million for school construction will be dispersed through the BEST Program, which awards funding to districts with severe capital construction needs, according to SSSD finance director Mark Rydberg.

Rydberg said the grant program uses criteria that weighs a district's ability to fund their own projects before awarding a grant, factoring in a district's median household income, unreserved general fund balance and percentage of students receiving free or reduced lunch, among other criteria.

Steamboat Springs, if ever awarded a BEST grant, would have to put up an 80 percent match for any funds received.

"The match doesn't necessarily prohibit a BEST grant award to SSSD, but in a competitive grant process, districts that have a lower match are judged to have greater need therefore are much more likely to be granted," Rydberg said.

The program awarded about $47 million this fiscal year to 24 schools or districts across the state for projects including roof replacements, safety and security upgrades or school renovations.

To reach Teresa Ristow, call 970-871-4206, email tristow@SteamboatToday.com or follow her on Twitter @TeresaRistow