Summit School district to have mill levy question on November ballot |

Summit School district to have mill levy question on November ballot

Julie Sutor
summit daily news

SUMMIT COUNTY – The Summit School Board affirmed Monday morning it will ask local voters to help stem the tide of declining revenue.

Faced with the possibility of having to cut $2-4 million from the budget next year – after already having trimmed $867,000 and frozen teacher pay this year – board members plan to ask voters in November to approve a mill levy that would generate about $2.1 million annually for Summit schools.

“We can’t emphasize enough the gravity of this situation,” board member Margaret Carlson said. “We’re struggling just to maintain what we have.”

The mill levy’s appearance on the ballot won’t be official until the school board finalizes ballot language later this month, but an informal poll of board members at Monday’s special meeting indicated unanimous support for going to the voters.

“I don’t think we have a choice,” Board of Education President Jon Kreamelmeyer said.

Were the mill levy to pass, a homeowner with a $400,000 home would pay $34.50 per year. However, total taxes to the school district would decrease, since an existing, larger mill levy sunsets this year.

As assessed property values decline across Colorado, so does the major source of funding for the state’s schools. Based on projections from the state government, assistant superintendent Karen Strakbein has estimated Summit School District will have to cut $1.9 million from its budget next year and another $1.4 million the following year. In addition, the district will be required to increase its contributions to the state’s retirement fund for public employees by $192,000 next year, meaning that amount must be cut from elsewhere in the budget.

Passage of state Amendments 60 and 61 and Proposition 101, all of which will appear on the November statewide ballot, would necessitate further cuts, according to district officials. Strakbein estimates that in the 2011-2012 school year, Amendment 60 would reduce district revenues by $1.1 million, Amendment 61 by $760,000, and Proposition 101 by $390,000. If all three were to pass, the total impact next year would be $2.3 million, with continued reductions over a course of 10 years.

Proponents of Amendment 60 argue those impacts are overstated, since that measure would require the state government to backfill the revenue drops. But many state and local officials are skeptical of the state’s ability to backfill and doubt it would ever happen.

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