Letter: CMC proposal clarification
First, thank you to County Assessor Jim Yellico for his statements of support for Colorado Mountain College. We agree that CMC is a genuine community asset that is deserving of our support and stewardship. As the former (retired) chief financial officer of the college, I would like to offer clarification on the interpretation of the CMC ballot question 4B. The CMC question simply asks to maintain current revenues by recalibrating the mill levy in response to future Gallagher Amendment adjustments. Importantly, 4B is permissive only and does not authorize or mandate an automatic increase.
The CMC Board of Trustees must consider justification for any future mill increase. The board has a fiduciary duty to balance the budget and continue to provide the services that voters approved while meeting the new, growing demands of the current population. As the board approves the annual budget it systematically explores efficiencies, tuition increases and service reductions. It also weighs the pros and cons of keeping tuition affordable while continuing to meet demands for new programs, competitive wages, healthcare and employee housing issues. All of these are challenges that most businesses face. The difference is the funding model that created the college 50 years ago.
In 1965 the electorate of our mountain communities voted 2-1 in favor of creating a mill levy to maintain CMC. Therefore, the majority of the college’s revenue is derived from property taxes. The Gallagher Amendment was passed 17 years after CMC was created. This statewide vote has chipped away at the intent of the original vote to create CMC and will continue to erode Western Slope services, diminishing the positive fiscal impact the college has on our mountain communities. 4B restores a local voice in the complex Colorado tax laws and ensures that the vote to create CMC will not be harmed again by growth in the Front Range.
Retired CFO, Colorado Mountain College