Colorado Mountain College wins tax revenue proposal
Glenwood Post Independent
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect the final vote count and to correct the amount of the Gallagher financial impact.
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Western Colorado voters approved Colorado Mountain College’s bid to adjust property tax rates during lean budget years in a ballot initiative Tuesday.
Early results for the college’s district – which includes Garfield, Eagle, Pitkin, Lake, Routt and Summit counties – showed the measure winning with more than 70 percent support.
Routt County voters overwhelmingly approved the measure with 7,495 votes cast in favor and 2,185 cast against.
Ballot Question 7D was not a property tax, but a way for the college to make up for budget shortfalls caused when the state reduces property tax assessment rates. The CMC board of directors had asked for the ability to change the mill levy rates in order to restore tax revenue that may be lost when the assessment rate changes in the future.
Participate in The Longevity Project
The Longevity Project is an annual campaign to help educate readers about what it takes to live a long, fulfilling life in our valley. This year Kevin shares his story of hope and celebration of life with his presentation Cracked, Not Broken as we explore the critical and relevant topic of mental health.
“We are honored that voters in our communities took the time to learn about how a quirk in the state constitution put local services in rural areas at risk and have entrusted the college with the ability to maintain revenues that otherwise would have been lost,” the board of trustees said in a statement Tuesday.
“We humbly accept this responsibility and are committed to providing the essential education and training that our students, employers and communities need to meet the demands of our regional economy.”
The residential mill levy is typically adjusted down, due the Gallagher Amendment to the state constitution, which requires a certain percentage of revenue to come from businesses compared to residential property taxes. That system has caused CMC to lose revenue, according to the board.
CMC proposed a similar change to offset losses from the Gallagher Amendment during the 2017 election, but that measure was defeated.
As part of the ballot language, CMC promised to maintain a transparent accounting of how it uses its funds and its justification for increasing a mill levy over the assessment rate.
“As has always been true, we will continue to publicly and transparently report the actions of the CMC Board of Trustees, when and if they ever exercise the provisions of 7D,” the statement said.
In 2017, CMC changed employee benefits and implemented reductions in operations, along with raising tuition, to accommodate the drop in revenue. If the assessment rate drops in 2019 — a certainty unless the legislature can devise a way to change Gallagher — the college would have faced an additional reduction for $3.8 million, according to the trustees.
Critics of the measure said that in future years, if CMC raises the mill levy rate as the assessment rate drops, it would be, in effect a tax not subject to community vote.
Support Local Journalism
Support Local Journalism
Readers around Steamboat and Routt County make the Steamboat Pilot & Today’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.
Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.
Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.
Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.
User Legend: Moderator Trusted User