ASPEN - Aspen residents approved a sales tax increase for education Tuesday, with 53.16 percent of voters in favor of the measure.
Ballot issue 2B passed with 2,105 votes in favor and 1,855 against, according to preliminary final election results from the Pitkin County Clerk and Recorder's Office.
"This is a great day - it shows that our community truly values our schools and that they are willing to continue to invest in our children," said Dr. John Maloy, superintendent of the Aspen School District. "We are excited about the funding we are going to be able to put forth to maintain the important programs and quality staff that make our schools exemplary."
With Tuesday's vote, the Aspen sales tax rate will be increased by 0.3 percent. The tax increase will raise an estimated $1.75 million annually for the financially challenged Aspen School District.
Proponents of the measure, which was brought forth by the Aspen Education Foundation, say the funds will allow the district to maintain its current program and staffing levels in the face of state budget cuts to education.
"We are grateful to the Aspen community for standing behind our schools and our kids," said foundation President Robin Hamill. "We look forward to using the money prudently to maintain our excellent schools in the coming years."
According to the Aspen School District finance office, projected budget deficits from now until 2016 fall into a range of $660,000 to $980,000 annually, depending on the year.
"In the short-term, this gives us a great sense of relief," said Maloy. "It gives us a four-year window to plan ahead, so that we can continue to be good stewards of the taxpayers' dollars."
The tax will expire in four years, with a seven-member independent, appointed board overseeing its distribution. Those board members, who were listed on the ballot, include Hamill, attorney Jeanne C. Doremus, real estate executive Ernie Fyrwald, former school board member Laura Kornasiewicz, accountant Susan Marolt, landscape architect Sarah Chase Shaw and financial consultant Peter Van Domelen.