Big Re-2 plans hinge on help from voters |

Big Re-2 plans hinge on help from voters

RIFLE – When Garfield School District Re-2 administrators and board members meet tonight at 7 p.m., they’ll spend at least a portion of the evening discussing a proposed mill levy override that will appear on a mail-in ballot for the Nov. 4 election.

If it passes, property owners with homes and businesses located within the school district will see the tax added onto their property tax bills.

Re-2 superintendent Gary Pack explained the $4 million a year generated from the permanent override would pay for teacher and staff salaries, staffing for the new Coal Ridge High School, and improved technology, such as high-speed Internet access.

The money would also be used to purchase buses to replace the district’s outdated, outmoded 15-passenger vans. Pack said the district would face lower vehicle insurance costs once the vans are replaced.

Pack also said the district wants to offer optional, full-day, five-day-a-week kindergarten classes.

Pack said the money is urgently needed, due to state budget cuts and growth in the district.

“Right now, we’re on a salary freeze,” Pack said. “No one got any kind of raise for the coming year. And we’re one of the only districts in the state that’s growing. If we want to retain and keep our staff, we have got to provide them with the salaries they deserve.”

In 2001, Garfield Re-2 property owners approved a $39 million bond issue, which is charged in annual property tax invoices over a 20-year period. That money is being used for capital improvements and new buildings within the district and is separate from the mill levy override being proposed.

Vicki Van Engelenburg, Re-2 School Board president, said the district needs the support from the community in order to keep standards high.

“With our focus on raising student achievement, we need to hire the best and keep the best staff here,” she said. “If the state budget wasn’t in the condition it’s in, we wouldn’t need to ask our voters for this increase. We wouldn’t ask if it wasn’t really necessary.”

The district is asking residents and businesses to pay an additional $4 million a year; the mill levy can be adjusted each year to yield that amount, Pack said. Increases in the district’s overall assessed value would also change the mill levy.

Pack said last September the district tabulated what the override would cost the average taxpayer. He said for a $100,000 house, the mill levy override would amount to an additional $85 in property taxes per year. For a $100,000 commercial building, the tax would be three times that amount, or $255 per year.

There is good news in those figures, Pack explained. The tabulations were done without taking into account the tax base impacts of the Wal-Mart Supercenter that’s coming to Rifle and the rebuilt City Market. Pack said homeowners and commercial property owners can anticipate lower payments – hovering around $50 annually for a $100,000 home, or $150 for a $100,000 commercial property.

Pack said Garfield Re-2 communities have supported the school district in the past. He and Van Engelenburg are optimistic community members will understand the value of maintaining a vibrant school district.

“We have such a momentum going,” Van Engelenburg said. “When we went through the accreditation process earlier this year, state representatives told me that our district could be one of the tops in the state of Colorado. They said the only thing that could hold us back would be our resources.

“We hope the community will see how important our school district is to have our communities thrive,” she said.

Contact Carrie Click: 945-8515, ext. 518

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