Roaring Fork School District Re-1 school board opposes state ballot initiatives
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – Roaring Fork School District Re-1 board of education members have resolved to oppose a trio of state ballot initiatives and will also take their message to the streets to encourage local voters to say “no” to the measures.
The board, at its Wednesday meeting, unanimously passed a series of resolutions stating formal opposition to Amendments 60 and 61 and Proposition 101.
The initiatives, which appear on the Nov. 2 general election ballot in Colorado, would implement significant property and income tax cuts and make it harder for schools, special districts and local and state government to borrow money for public projects and services.
Each of the school board resolutions points out the impacts the measures would have on public schools in Glenwood Springs, Carbondale and Basalt, as well as across the state, if approved by voters.
Amendment 60, in particular, would cut school property taxes in half over the next 10 years. Although the amendment mandates that the state is to replace that revenue, the Re-1 board’s resolution points out that it provides “no credible means” for the state to do that.
“This school district has already faced a series of budget cuts due to declining state revenues, including an unprecedented 6.3 percent cut in total program funding in this fiscal year, and a 2.3 percent rescission the previous fiscal year,” the board resolution states.
“A loss of 50 percent, or $17.4 million (based on 2009/10 amounts levied) of the school district’s local property tax revenues, would devastate local support for the public education system in this community,” it also states.
It goes on to say that the proposed amendment would be counter to the wishes of local voters, who in 1997 agreed to allow Re-1 to override revenue restrictions contained in Colorado’s Taxpayers’ Bill of Rights (TABOR).
School officials have expressed a more immediate concern about Amendment 61, which would eliminate a current interest-free loan program offered by the state to local school districts for cash-flow needs.
Re-1, which like other school districts in the state is heavily dependent on property tax revenues, uses the cash-flow loan program to get through the fall and winter months before local property taxes come due in the spring.
“Amendment 61 would potentially cause the closure of schools or reductions in education services because districts like ours, who receive most of their funding from property taxes, would literally run out of operating funds by January 2011,” according to the board resolution.
In addition, the state amendment would severely limit the district’s ability to issue debt to pay for new school facilities, even if local voters see fit to do so, the board resolution says.
Proposition 101, which would reduce the state income tax rate and lower vehicle registration fees to 1919 levels, would result in a $1.6 million cut for Re-1 schools, according to the board’s resolution on that initiative.
Board members also came up with a one-page summary of talking points to share with parents and others at upcoming back-to-school nights in various schools, and in the weeks leading up to the election.
“Help us defeat these measures by educating yourself, your friends, co-workers and neighbors about the devastating impacts to your school district, town, county, road and bridge departments, police, fire, water and sewer districts, and virtually every other state or local entity supported in whole or in part by taxes,” reads the board’s information sheet.
Other local elected boards have already or will soon consider similar resolutions related to the ballot initiatives. Garfield County commissioners are set to take up the discussion on Sept. 7, while Glenwood Springs City Council is slated to discuss the matter on Sept. 15.
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