Voters take up sales tax for Aspen schools | AspenTimes.com

Voters take up sales tax for Aspen schools

ASPEN – Aspen voters are being asked to approve a sales tax for education on the Nov. 6 ballot. If question 2B is approved, the Aspen sales-tax rate would be increased by 0.3 percent. The tax increase would raise an estimated $1.75 million annually for the financially challenged Aspen school district.

Proponents of the measure, which was the Aspen Education Foundation brought forth, say the funds would allow the district to maintain its current program and staffing levels in the face of state budget cuts to education.

According to projections from the Aspen School District finance office, budget deficits from now until 2016 fall into a range of $660,000 to $980,000 annually, depending on the year.

“These funds are necessary to maintain our quality schools,” said Robin Hamill, president of the Aspen Education Foundation board. “And we firmly believe that strong schools make for a strong community – (a) community where people want to live and visit.”

The tax would expire in four years, with a seven-member independent, appointed board overseeing its distribution. Those board members were named during Tuesday’s meeting. They are attorney Jeanne C. Doremus, real estate executive Ernie Fyrwald, former Aspen Education Foundation interim director Robin Hamill, former school board member Laura Kornasiewicz, accountant Susan Marolt, landscape architect Sarah Chase Shaw and financial consultant Peter Van Domelen.

Question 2B has been endorsed by the Aspen Board of Education, Aspen Skiing Co., the Aspen Chamber Resort Association and business and community members. There has been no organized opposition to the initiative.

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“This community has – over and over again – been supportive of education, and we hope that will continue in November,” Hamill said.

jmcgovern@aspentimes.com