Editorial: Yes on schools, fire districts, library, CMC questions
The Post Independent, for this fall 2018 election cycle, will not be endorsing candidates for local or state elected offices. However, in looking at the extremely long ballot this year both locally and statewide, we have decided to endorse some local ballot questions that we do feel very strongly about.
Voters in the Carbondale, Glenwood Springs and Parachute areas will be deciding important tax measures to support fire protection and emergency medical services.
If there were ever a year when we’ve seen the value of our local firefighting agencies, this extremely dangerous past wildfire season was it.
Glenwood Springs Fire, with inter-agency support, was instrumental in keeping several local wildfires in check before they could get out of hand and threaten life or property.
Ballot Issue 2A on the Glenwood Springs ballot, and 6B that’s before voters in the Glenwood Rural Fire District, seek to renew mill levies first approved by voters in 2013. The question before voters now is whether to maintain that level of support for fire and ambulance services for the next 20 years. We believe that answer is yes.
Likewise, the Carbondale and Rural Fire Protection District (Ballot Issues 7B and 7C) and the Grand Valley Fire District (separate ballot sent out by the fire district) are seeking new property tax support for services in those areas.
The Carbondale Fire District played a crucial role in fighting the Lake Christine Fire when it threatened homes in the El Jebel Mobile Home Park. Without its efforts, many more homes could have been lost.
These local fire agencies deserve voter support to continue protecting our communities.
re2 schools and teachers
The Garfield School District Re-2 is returning to district voters seven years after an unsuccessful attempt to pass a mill levy override to bolster teacher pay. Bottom line, Re-2 teachers have waited seven years too long to be paid on par with their colleagues in the neighboring Garfield District 16 and Roaring Fork School District Re-1.
Ballot Issue 4A in the New Castle, Silt and Rifle areas seeks to rectify that situation and make Re-2 pay competitive, so that the district can recruit and retain quality teachers and staff.
The district also asks in Ballot Issue 4B for a bond issue to pay for needed classroom expansion at two elementary schools, Cactus Valley in Silt and Highland Elementary in Rifle.
We believe the district was diligent in narrowing down the requests to ask only for what is absolutely needed to address the most urgent needs in the district. However, we do suggest that the district, upon earning voter support, revisit the pros and cons of a possible return to a five-day school week.
libraries and cmc
Voters throughout Garfield County, and in the case of Colorado Mountain College, throughout its six-county district, are also deciding on two important measures to allow those institutions to retain tax dollars they already count on.
First, CMC’s Ballot Issue 7D.
College leaders decided to go back to voters only a year after an unsuccessful effort to convince voters to allow the college’s board of trustees, in years when the state’s Gallagher Amendment property tax provisions apply, to adjust the district’s mill levy so that it can maintain revenues otherwise lost due to circumstances out of CMC’s control.
The Colorado Legislature, thanks in part to the efforts of state Rep. Bob Rankin, is working to fix the Gallagher provision, so that ballot measures like the one before CMC voters, will no longer be necessary. Until then, 7D is a needed measure to provide financial stability to an important educational institution serving our communities, and warrants voter support.
Likewise, the Garfield County Library District, with Ballot Issue 6A, is seeking to keep and spend revenue already collected that exceeds limits under the state’s TABOR Amendment.
Most area taxing entities have already done this. The library district, which has been hit hard by the downturn in oil and gas property valuations in recent years, resulting in staffing and service cuts, deserves the same so it can maintain programming at the six branch libraries from Carbondale to Parachute.
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