‘Yes’ on Measure 3B
October 15, 2010
Current polls suggest that Amendment 61 on the Colorado ballot this fall, which would severely constrain government debt, isn’t going to pass.
Whether it does is more than a passing political curiosity to East Grand School District. In fact, worst case: The district would have to close for three months.
While we suspect that would never happen, passage of the amendment would create a serious problem for the district; namely, officials would have to figure out a way to come up with a bridge loan to tide the district over from November to the following March, when property tax revenues become available.
Until this year, that was accomplished through an interest-free bridge loan made by a state agency. The agency, because of the mere threat posed by Amendment 61, has suspended the program pending the outcome of the election.
So, East Grand and a few other districts around the state that were left in this lurch when the state changed its fiscal year, have been forced to come up with alternatives. Measure 3B is the most palatable of them.
Through 3B, voters would authorize the district to increase its debt by $4 million through a general obligation bond (with a final repayment cost of more than twice that) in order to fund annual operating costs between November and the following spring. Doing so would entail increasing taxes by about $350,000 annually.
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All of which would be contingent on Amendment 61 passing. Again, the bond and tax increase will be implemented only if the amendment passes.
Given that the alternative is for the district to mortgage a couple buildings and repay that “loan” out of operating expenses, this strikes us as a no-brainer: It clearly is a superior solution.
And lest anyone be laboring under the false impression that the district hasn’t already tightened its proverbial belt, consider the figures the district was required to submit to election officials. According to that report, the district will have cut actual spending this year by nearly $2.3 million – from $17.6 million to $15.3 million – compared with 2008-2009 school year spending.
The district is already facing still more cuts. If the amendment passes, those cuts will have to be even deeper as debt service payments will have to be made out of the general fund.
We may not need it, but Measure 3B serves as an insurance policy should the unthinkable happen and Amendment 61 pass. We strongly recommend a yes vote.
Vote early, vote often?
Many Coloradans received their 2010 mail ballots this week. Some regular participants in the political process – many in this office included – consider the mail ballot the best thing to come down the pike since cruise control, but they are not without drawbacks.
Chief among those may be the inclination to send in the ballot as quickly as practical after it is received. We would urge greater deliberation.
One need look no further than this year’s primary election for an instructive lesson in this regard. Those who sent in their ballots immediately did not have the opportunity to consider allegations of plagiarism against the presumptive front-runner in the GOP gubernatorial race before they voted.
While such 11th hour revelations may be relatively uncommon, they seem to visit political campaigns with sufficient frequency that it’s probably a prudent move to hold on to those mail ballots for a week or two before spiriting them off to the nearest post office.
Be that as it may, by all means, do vote.
It is more than a mere privilege: Exercising this prerogative of a free society is what maintains our freedoms.