West Grand schools seek tax override to recoup funding lost to enrollment decline | SkyHiNews.com

West Grand schools seek tax override to recoup funding lost to enrollment decline

Reid Armstrong
Sky-Hi Daily News
Grand County, CO Colorado

West Grand voters must decide whether they are willing to pay higher property taxes to improve funding for the school district.

The school board is requesting an “override” of $419,000, which could increase residential property tax bills by an average of $25-$35 per year, depending on the assessed valued of a home.

The money would come in the form of a tax override and would replace funds lost to declining student enrollment.

The district has lost approximately 50 students during the past decade, or $414,750 in funding, according to figures provided by the district administrative office. (The school receives $8,295 from the state per student.)

If the initiative is successful, the school board states that it will use the money to maintain smaller class sizes, provide more educational opportunities, maintain the facilities and keep pace with technological advances.

The average student-teacher ratio districtwide is 11-1. At the high school, the ratio is 9-1. At the middle school it is 13-1 and at the elementary school it is 12-1.

If the initiative does not pass, the school district stands to lose $120, 038 in funding in 2011 when two existing tax overrides expire. (There is also a third existing override for $550,000 that does not expire.)

If those overrides are allowed to expire, owners of a sample residential property with an appraised value of $200,000 would see a $9.50 decrease in their annual tax bills.

If the ballot initiative is approved, however, owners of the same residential property would see an increase of approximately $36 in 2010 (the maximum allowed by the state for the existing overrides plus the new override), which would drop to about $24 when two existing overrides expire the following year.

The total levy for the West Grand School District is 22.783 mills, costing the sample residential taxpayer about $360 per year. If the new override is approved, that same taxpayer would owe approximately $390 in 2010.

If taxpayers do not approve any additional funding, the levy would drop to 22.17 mills in 2011 when the overrides expire and the sample taxpayer’s bill would hold at about $350.

Ballots are being issued to registered West Grand voters through the mail. These must be completed and returned by mail or to one of the county’s approved drop-off locations before Nov. 3.

Completed ballots may also be submitted between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. on Election Day, Nov. 3, at the Kremmling Fire Station. Votes received by mail after Nov. 2 will not be counted.

– Reid Armstrong can be reached at 970-887-3334 ext. 19610 or rarmstrong@skyhidailynews.com.