Inside the Chamber column: 50 Years Later — Chamber and Colorado Mountain College partnering for the community and business
Inside the Chamber
The year is 1962. I like to imagine a young Glenwood Springs chamber of commerce manager named David Delaplane thumbing through files in his first week on the job.
He happens upon a folder labeled “Education” that contains a single sheet of paper. It’s labeled: “Education Committee.” He calls the names on the list and holds a meeting where he determines, in his own words, “What this community needs is a local college.”
Can you imagine starting a college in a mountain town like Glenwood Springs, Colorado, in 1962? But wait, it gets better. David and his committee members quickly determined that West Slope communities are competitive. They decide to engage other rural communities in order to be successful.
They set about collecting signatures for a petition and prepared a ballot measure. Over the next several months, David and his group took the show on the road and visited elected officials and chambers of commerce in five counties to gain grass-roots support.
Believe it or not, voters approved the new taxpayer-supported college district by a 2-1 ratio. Colorado Mountain College was born. Leadville and Spring Valley campuses opened in 1967.
Fast forward 50 years. The board of directors of the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association is presented with the facts about 4B, a ballot measure that the CMC Board of Trustees has placed on the November ballot. The chamber board unanimously voted to support the initiative and gave chamber staff the authority to work on the election.
While 4B is a somewhat complicated issue, it’s basically about preserving the legacy of the last 50 years.
Why vote yes on 4B? CMC’s local funding is negatively affected by Colorado’s Gallagher Amendment and explosive Front Range growth in property values. Since the Gallagher is based on a statewide total, the large population of the Front Range dominates our small rural percentage of total state property values. Gallagher’s downward adjustments in statewide tax rates compromise local funding and mean a loss of revenue for CMC. Over time, these adjustments could be severe.
It is time once again for the chamber to champion our local college.
• 4B will keep residential property taxes at the current level and allow the CMC board to adjust the mill levy only to offset future Gallagher reductions.
• Taxpayers other than residential could experience a small increase in taxes depending on the adjustment of the Gallagher rate. (This year’s adjustment would have been $7 per $100,000 of assessed value.)
CMC is an economic driver and has helped build our community. The college is important for our businesses and our workforce. It attracts employees who value postsecondary education and trains business owners, workers, teachers, veterans, nurses, police officers and emergency responders.
But the bottom line for me is that CMC has a legacy that we need to preserve. It was created 50 years ago as a locally funded college and remains the only postsecondary education institution in the communities it serves, providing access to the most affordable college education in Colorado.
I am so proud of David Delaplane and his role as the “father of Colorado Mountain College.” I am proud of the chamber’s continued role of supporting this fine institution. Please join me in voting YES on 4B for CMC.
Marianne Virgili is president and CEO of the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association. See http://www.YESon4B.org, and https://www.facebook.com/Yeson4B for more information, to contribute to the campaign and to show your support.