Russ Garrity: Vote for funds | SteamboatToday.com

Russ Garrity: Vote for funds

Russ Garrity

On Nov. 6, the South Routt community will be asked to vote on the following two ballot issues that are critical to the future of our South Routt schools: Referendum 3A, a mill levy override, and Referendum 3B, which would fund the replacement of the schools’ heating systems. I am asking you to vote “yes” on both these critical issues.

First, let me address Referendum 3A, the mill levy override. The amount of money that South Routt School District receives from the Colorado Department of Education to fund our schools is based on the number of students that enroll in our district. For each student we enroll, the state contributes approximately $8,200 to our general fund. From 1998 to 2007, the number of students at South Routt School District decreased from 450 to 389. For the year 2006 alone, this loss of students cost our district about $344,000.

While the revenues used to operate the South Routt schools have steadily decreased, the school operating costs (e.g. bus fuel costs, utility bills, snow removal costs, insurance premiums, etc.) have risen substantially. These trends have adversely affected our annual budget and the reserves in our general fund. Voting yes on ballot issue 3A will raise a maximum of $360,000 per year to help us to properly fund our schools.

Referendum 3B will replace school heating systems. The current coal boilers at both South Routt district campuses are at least 36 years old and are in a state of ill-repair. The original boiler manufacturer is no longer in business, and that makes the boilers very costly to maintain. Replacement parts are difficult to acquire because they must be custom made. It is estimated that 30 percent of the district’s maintenance costs are related to the upkeep of the coal boiler systems. In addition, coal boilers emit particulates to the air, producing a dirty and potentially unhealthy environment.

Based on our pressing needs, the state of Colorado has awarded our school district a $1.57 million Capital Construction Grant to replace our heating systems. If the South Routt School District cannot provide the matching funds required for this grant, we will lose the $1.57 million and we will face financial hardship when the heating systems finally fail. Voting yes on ballot issue 3B will allow us to raise the matching funds needed to replace the boilers at both campuses with clean and energy efficient ground-source heating pumps.

The overall impact of voting yes on 3A and 3B will be a net increase to taxpayers of 1 mill. For a residential property owner of a $236,000 house in our district, the tax increase will be less than $19 per year. Please vote yes on 3A and 3B.

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Russ Garrity

Oak Creek