Our View: Historic ballot questions | SteamboatToday.com

Our View: Historic ballot questions

In spite of a scarcity of contested candidate races, we believe the implications of the Nov. 7 election will prove to be of historic importance. And we urge Steamboat Today readers to attend the Oct. 11 Election Forum sponsored by the Routt County Democrats, Routt County Republicans, Steamboat Springs Board of Realtors and Steamboat Today.

The live event takes place at the Steamboat Grand and begins with a 5:30 p.m. meet and greet, followed by the forum moderated by Steamboat Today Editor Lisa Schlichtman at 6 p.m.

And again this year, there is no reason for any voter or community member to miss out on the information exchanged at the forum. Steamboat Today will live stream the event and also post a video from the forum on SteamboatToday.com.

Between the Steamboat Springs School Board and City Council races featured in the forum, there is only one contested candidate race on the ballot. Peter Arnold is challenging city council incumbent Scott Ford.

Attendees and viewers will also have an opportunity to hear from two new prospective school board members, Katy Lee and Mayling Simpson, as they are the only candidates for two open seats.

And while there isn't a lot of competition in the city council and school board races, the ballot questions being put forward by the Steamboat Springs School District and the Yampa Valley Housing Authority have profound implications for the future of our school buildings and for the path our community takes in terms of supporting workforce housing.

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Steamboat Today has reported in-depth since late 2015 about the fiscal challenges facing the Steamboat Springs School District as it comes to terms with the reality that its four school buildings are nearing capacity, and in some cases, in dire need of repairs.

The school district is seeking voter approval on two ballot questions targeting the need to fund upgrades to existing buildings, and the district is quick to acknowledge that this funding request is just the beginning of a multi-year program, which will seek to enlarge existing schools and perhaps build a new elementary school.

Referendum 3D seeks voter approval of a seven-year, $12.9 million bond to replace roofs on five buildings including three schools, install new heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems at the middle school, and make repairs to the track and bleachers at the Gardner athletic field.

Referendum 3C seeks a mill levy estimated to raise $1 million in the first year, in order provide a permanent source of funding to allow the district to fund future capital maintenance projects.

Steamboat Springs and Routt County have struggled to find the right mix of public sector remedies to solve the shortage of housing here since the beginning of the 21st century. But the Yampa Valley Housing Authority achieved a breakthrough in 2017 with the successful completion of 48 income-restricted affordable apartments in The Reserves of Steamboat Springs on the city's west side.

In the 2017 election, the authority is seeking the permission of voters within its district to collect a 10-year, one-mill property tax estimated to raise $850,000 annually, or $8.5 million in a decade, to leverage more grants and private development interest from outside the community in order to build more projects.

The more informed voters are on these complex issues, the better prepared they will be to cast their mail-in ballots. And we urge voters to take advantage of next week's Election Forum to held them make those decisions.

At issue: A mistake in ballot language forced the South Routt School Board to rescind Refendum 3B

Our view: It was an unfortunate mistake but Soroco school leaders must move on and begin plans to place the ballot measure back before voters in 2018

Editorial Board
• Suzanne Schlicht, COO and publisher
• Lisa Schlichtman, editor
• Jim Patterson, evening editor
• Tom Ross, reporter
• Beth Melton, community representative
• Bob Weiss, community representative
Contact the editorial board at 970-871-4221 or editor@SteamboatToday.com.