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School district eyeing tax hikes

The downvalley school district is testing the waters this week to see how voters would view three potential ballot questions seeking property-tax increases.

The Roaring Fork School District sent a direct mail piece to residents of the Basalt, El Jebel, Carbondale and Glenwood Springs areas with a questionnaire on three specific taxing proposals.

“We’re trying to get a gut level read from our constituency,” said Shannon Pelland, the district’s finance director. The responses will help the school board determine whether to proceed with questions for the November ballot.

The direct mail piece outlined three programs the district might pursue. The first is to raise $1.2 million to provide greater cost-of-living allowances for district teachers. That would raise taxes about $5 per month for the owner of a home with an assessed value of $225,000.

The second question said $400,000 may be sought to provide computers, software and wiring for buildings. The average cost to a homeowner in the district would be an extra $1.60 per month.

The third question addresses raising $600,000 to hire more teachers in kindergarten through third grade to obtain a students-to-teacher ratio of 17-to-1. That would raise taxes $2.40 per month.

Constituents were asked in each case to state whether they “generally support the policy” and would like to see it on the November ballot; “cannot support this policy at this time”; or don’t have any advice to offer the district.

Finally, the district tried to gauge opinions for an all-or-nothing move.

“Taken together, all three issues could cost a District homeowner as much as $9 in increased property tax each month, for a total of $108 per year,” the direct mail piece said. “If you had to choose between the two, either doing all three programs or doing none of them, [rate the position] that most closely mirrors your own feelings at this time.”

The district is asking people to fill out the questionnaires and send them back by Friday, May 7. The results will be tabulated before the school board’s Wednesday, May 12 meeting, and discussed then, according to Pelland.

The board may decide at that meeting which direction to go with ballot questions, she said.

That meeting is open to the public. It will be held at 7 p.m. at the District Office Board Room at 1405 Grand Ave. in Glenwood Springs.


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