Aspen School District taxes pass in Aspen and Snowmass
The Aspen Times
Aspen School District results
*Pitkin County Clerk and Recorder results as of midnight Wednesday.
The Aspen School District’s two tax questions both passed in Aspen and Snowmass on Tuesday night, securing two steady streams of revenue for the district for the next five years.
In Tuesday’s vote, residents in Aspen overwhelmingly supported a 0.3 percent city sales tax renewal, while in Snowmass Village, residents backed a property tax by a narrower margin.
“We’re just really happy that we got support both in Aspen and Snowmass Village and that our community is just so willing to support our kids,” said Aspen Board of Education President Susan Marolt on Tuesday night. “We just want to thank everyone who worked so hard on the campaign. … And a huge thank-you to the community. We’re committed to being good stewards of those funds. It’s nice to have stable local funding when we haven’t been able to depend on the state funding.”
Colorado has failed to meet its financial obligation to public school districts throughout the state, including Aspen, since 2009, said Aspen School District Chief Financial Officer Kate Fuentes.
For the 2016-17 academic year, this negative factor translates to a $2.1 million deficit in the Aspen School District.
The school district first asked Aspen voters in 2012 to support the 0.3 percent sales tax, which would have expired Dec. 31 without the extension, Marolt said.
With an increasing gap in state dollars each year, the Aspen Board of Education and Fuentes developed a three-part plan in 2015 to acquire the necessary funding.
Part one of this model was the mill-levy override, which voters approved in the November 2015 election.
The mill levy costs property owners an additional $3 per $100,000 of assessed value and brings in about $990,000 to the school district each year, Marolt said.
Lobbying Aspen voters to renew the sales tax was part two; introducing Snowmass Village to the financial equation was part three.
The property tax in Snowmass Village — where about 20 percent of students in the Aspen School District reside — will cost homeowners $40 for every $500,000 in property value.
The sales tax in Aspen racks in about $1.9 million to the schools on an annual basis, while the Snowmass property tax is expected to generate the additional $500,000 that the Aspen School District needs in order to close the $2.1 million fund gap.
“This will be the first time in a while that we haven’t had to work on where the funding is coming from,” Marolt said. “It will lend stability to our programs.”
On a national scale, Colorado’s per-pupil spending ranks at No. 42 in the U.S., according to the Colorado School Finance Project.
The organization estimated that on an annual basis, Colorado spends approximately $2,680 less than the U.S. average per pupil amount of $11,667.
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The field for three open seats on Aspen City Council in this spring’s election is set at 10 people, most of who are newcomers to Aspen’s political scene. Eight are going for the two council seats and two candidates are vying for mayor.