Aspen High School will |

Aspen High School will

Aspen Times Staff Report

Voters in the Aspen School District emphatically approved the district’s request for funding to build and furnish a large addition to Aspen High School Tuesday.

School district voters were asked to approve a $4.2 million annual tax increase to pay for a $40.9 million bond issue. The bond issue passed by a margin of more than 2 to 1, with 3,872 voters supporting the measure and 1,703 opposed. The issue was approved by a majority of voters in every precinct in the district, which includes the towns of Aspen and Snowmass Village and extends to Watson Divide, excluding the Old Snowmass area.

The purpose of the bond money, which will require a payback of up to $77.1 million, is to build a 106,000-square-foot addition to Aspen High School to alleviate overcrowding and provide a building which can be used, ideally, for the next 100 years. The bonding also includes money for improvements to the elementary and middle schools.

“We’re very happy the community is in support of it,” said Jill Uris, school board vice president.

“I think our community believes in the young people,” Uris continued. “They deserve a fine facility that’s competitive with other districts in the state.”

Though the present high school was built to accommodate 270 students, 404 students enrolled this fall, and seven high school teachers do not have their own classroom. The alternative to the bond-supported construction project would have been holding classes in trailers.

With the new addition, the high school will accommodate 500 students.

Uris said the school addition has the potential to help make students more competitive at getting into the best colleges.

The six issues placed on the ballot by Pitkin County were all accepted by county voters Tuesday.

n Referendum 1A, the transit revenue bond issue, was approved by a vote of 4,408 to 2,277, a 2-to-1 ratio.

Referendum 1A asked voters to approve $10.2 million in bonding authority for transportation projects. One of the primary purposes of issuing the bonds is to hurry the completion of the Highway 82 Entrance to Aspen by freeing up local funds for the project. But the money actually raised by sale of the bonds will go to several RFTA projects and to parking, transit and road projects in Snowmass Village.

n Referendum 1B, exempting the county from Amendment 24, the state-wide growth control measure, won by a much smaller margin, with a 3,946-to-2,564 vote. This issue is moot, because the growth control amendment went down to defeat.

n The county’s voters resoundingly approved a pay raise for the county commissioners.

When the state Legislature raised the pay of county commissioners state-wide a few years ago, the Pitkin County Commissioners declined to take the full increase in salary. Instead, the commissioners opted for a plan that boosted the salary here to $35,000, beginning with the two commissioners elected or re-elected in 1998. The remaining three commissioners are now making only $24,600.

The commissioners elected or re-elected yesterday will get a raise to $56,827 annually. The two commissioners elected in 2002 will receive that amount after that election.

Pitkin County voters endorsed the salary increases 4,803 to 2,170.

n Voters, by approving referendums 1D, 1E and 1F, eliminated term limits for three elected county employees: the county clerk and recorder, assessor and sheriff. These three jobs are technical by nature and require considerable training and on-the-job learning, supporters of the referendums said. These positions are now occupied by popular public servants, County Clerk Silvia Davis, Assessor Tom Isaac and Sheriff Bob Braudis.

Referendum 1D, elimination of term limits for the clerk and recorder, passed with a vote of 5,410 to 1,499. Elimination of term limits for assessor passed, 5,191 to 1,702. Term limits for county sheriff were eliminated by a vote of 5,127 to 1,844.

n A ballot issue that would “de-Bruce” tax funding for Colorado Mountain College was also overwhelmingly supported by Pitkin County voters. Referendum 4A will allow CMC to collect, retain and spend the full amount of money generated by the property tax the college collects.

District-wide vote totals weren’t available at press time. The college district includes other Western Slope towns such as Glenwood Springs, Leadville and Steamboat Springs.

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