Steamboat Springs Education Fund Board elects leaders |

Steamboat Springs Education Fund Board elects leaders

New members appointed; Open Meetings Law discussion tabled

Mike Lawrence

— The group that administers the city's half-cent sales tax for education took on a new look Wednesday night.

The Steamboat Springs Edu­cation Fund Board said goodbye to longtime members Tom Ptach and Michael Loomis; appointed two new members, Teresa Wright and Ann Hender­son; and elected a new slate of officers including Kristi Brown as president.

Former president Mark An­­der­sen moved to vice president, Dean Massey became treasurer, and Don Schwartz became secretary in a unanimous vote. No other candidates were nominated.

Wright said she moved here in 2005 and has three children who have attended Steamboat schools. She's a substitute teacher for the Steamboat Springs School District, is attending nursing school and cited math and science as her key interests.

Henderson said she has children entering first grade and kindergarten and will be president of the Parent-Teacher Information Committee at Strawberry Park Elementary School this year. She said she has a doctorate in wildlife biology and works part time for National Geographic magazine.

Wright and Henderson will serve two-year terms. The Fund Board still has one vacant seat. The group also unanimously agreed to hire local Certified Public Accountant Linda John­son as the Fund Board's accountant on a renewable one-year contract for $750 per month.

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It didn't take long for Johnson to hear a financial discussion Wednesday night.

Scott Mader, superintendent of the South Routt School District, asked the Fund Board if it could accelerate its payment of the about $115,000 the board allocated to the school district for the upcoming academic year. Mader said because the Colorado State Treasurer's Office has temporarily suspended its interest-free loan program, which allows school districts to borrow interest-free until their property taxes are remitted in spring, the South Routt district soon could be facing a "cash-flow issue."

"We'll be short of cash in October," Mader said.

Andersen said changing the payment schedule would affect the Fund Board's ability to ensure that funds are spent as allocated. He asked Mader to return with a more detailed request at the Fund Board's next meeting, Sept. 1.

Colorado Treasurer Cary Kennedy has said the primary reason for suspension of the loan program is uncertainty about Amendment 61, a measure on the November ballot that would, in part, prohibit the state from borrowing and incurring debt.

The Fund Board voted Wed­­­nesday to adopt a resolution in opposition to proposed Amend­ments 60 and 61, along with Pro­­position 101.

All are citizen-led ballot measures intended to reduce taxes and government spending.

Wright, Schwartz and Fund Board member Roger Good voted against the resolution. Good said some of its language went "over the top" in its condemnation of the measures and their possible impacts.

The Steamboat Springs School Board voted this month to adopt the resolution, which was created by Coloradans for Responsible Re­­­­form, a group op­posing the measures.

Also Wednesday, the Fund Board tabled action on a draft amendment to its Memorandum of Understanding with the city of Steam­­boat Springs. The amendment would formalize the Fund Board's com­­pliance with Colorado Open Meetings Law, which sets regulations for public, transparent governance.

The Steamboat Pilot & Today has challenged the Fund Board's commitment to that law.

Brown said the primary issue is the Fund Board's need to protect itself from potential legal chal­­lenges.

"We all are on the same page with transparency and having our meetings open to the public and following the tenet of the Open Meetings Law. There's no disagreement there," Brown said. "It's the bigger issue of putting this fund at risk where we are hoping to have a middle ground."

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