Election 2015: Referendums 3A and 3B would fund school improvements through property tax increases | SteamboatToday.com
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Election 2015: Referendums 3A and 3B would fund school improvements through property tax increases

This rendering shows how a new high school might look if voters approve a $92 million bond question being asked by the Steamboat Springs School District this November.
School_rendering

Referendum 3B asks voters to approve a $1.98 million mill levy override

Referendum 3B is a mill levy override that would collect property taxes to pay for operating expenses for the new high school, which would be built with the passage of Referendum 3A, and staff needed for the growing district.

The mill levy override would be phased in over three years and generate $1.98 million in its third year and beyond.

The override would fund about $350,000 in annual utility expenses and about $185,000 in annual maintenance including capital improvements, custodial, inspections and snow removal.

About $100,000 annually would be used for transportation costs including those associated with new and redirected bus routes.

Lastly, the override would fund the salary and benefits of a new elementary principal, assistant principal and two office positions at a new third through fifth grade elementary school that would be located in the current middle school campus, as well as five new teaching staff, two new maintenance staff, seven new custodians, a maintenance and transportation office assistant and two nutritional services employees for other areas of the district.

The mill levy override will cost about $17 annually per $100,000 of assessed home value — about $85 for a $500,000 home. The cost of the mill levy override is part of a total $270 annual school tax increase projected for a $500,000 home.

— Referendum 3A proposes to increase property taxes for Steamboat Springs homeowners to generate $92 million through bonds for the Steamboat Springs School District.

The referendum was put on the ballot following a unanimous vote by the Steamboat Springs Board of Education in August.

Referendum 3B asks voters to approve a $1.98 million mill levy override

Referendum 3B is a mill levy override that would collect property taxes to pay for operating expenses for the new high school, which would be built with the passage of Referendum 3A, and staff needed for the growing district.



The mill levy override would be phased in over three years and generate $1.98 million in its third year and beyond.

The override would fund about $350,000 in annual utility expenses and about $185,000 in annual maintenance including capital improvements, custodial, inspections and snow removal.



About $100,000 annually would be used for transportation costs including those associated with new and redirected bus routes.

Lastly, the override would fund the salary and benefits of a new elementary principal, assistant principal and two office positions at a new third through fifth grade elementary school that would be located in the current middle school campus, as well as five new teaching staff, two new maintenance staff, seven new custodians, a maintenance and transportation office assistant and two nutritional services employees for other areas of the district.

The mill levy override will cost about $17 annually per $100,000 of assessed home value — about $85 for a $500,000 home. The cost of the mill levy override is part of a total $270 annual school tax increase projected for a $500,000 home.

According to the Steamboat Springs School District and campaign committee Yes 2 Steamboat Schools, the money would be used to construct a new $71.8 million high school and for targeted renovations and maintenance at each existing district school.

Preschool classrooms would be integrated into the district’s existing elementary schools, and spaces would be renovated to house more small group learning areas.

The new 205,000-square-foot high school would be built on a 70-acre property on Steamboat’s western edge that the school district is under contract to purchase, provided Referendum 3A passes. The $3.6 million property would be paid for through bond premiums.

School officials say district expansion is necessary to address sustained increasing enrollment.

“Anyone who has toured our schools understands they are all overcrowded,” said Scott Bideau, co-chair of Yes 2 Steamboat Schools and a member of the school board. “Even the high school is programmatically bursting at the seems, like science classes being taught in the band room. This plan looks toward the future to address both capacity and programming at every school while keeping tax levels at historic lows.”

If the bond issue and a related operational mill levy override both pass, school property taxes on a $500,000 house will increase by $270 in the year 2016.

Opponents of Referendum 3A say that the plan is flawed, in part because it moves the district’s high school population to a site outside of downtown, converting the current high school into a middle school.

“Moving of the high school we think is a bad idea from a community and social aspect,” said Kevin Sankey, a parent and member of Citizens for a Better Plan, a group opposing the bond.

The group said they are pro-education and support the need for more space for students but believe the plan that would be carried out through Referendum 3A isn’t the right one.

The group emphasizes that while overcrowding is happening at the elementary and middle school, it isn’t happening at the high school and isn’t going to happen in the foreseeable future.

Sankey said Citizens for a Better Plan believe that the creation of this plan lacked community engagement, while Yes 2 Steamboat Schools representatives contend that the more than 20 committee, community and school board meetings held this spring were sufficient to create the plan.

Another reason for opposing the plan is a perceived lack of due diligence on the Overlook property, where the district would build the new high school.

Sankey said the option to build on the Overlook site was quickly presented to the community and then decided upon, without careful consideration of traffic impacts, accessibility and safety at the site.

The bond question will require a simple majority vote to pass.

To reach Teresa Ristow, call 970-871-4206, email tristow@SteamboatToday.com or follow her on Twitter @TeresaRistow


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