Eagle County School district voters split on bond issue, mill levy increase

Results at 9 p.m. show mill levy failing, bond issue passing

The "Slice and Dice Team" of Bart Harst and Tenie Chicoine double and triple check ballots Tuesday at the Eagle County building in Eagle before sending them through a machine that cuts the envelope so the ballots can be removed and hand checked before they are scanned and counted.
Ben Roof/For the Vail Daily

Eagle County School District voters were split in their opinions about a pair of ballot questions, 5A and 5B, on Tuesday’s ballot. As of 9 p.m., 5A, a mill levy override, was trailing, while 5B, a bond issue, was leading.

The override question asked voters if property taxes could be increased by a total of $3.5 million in 2024 and beyond. According to the ballot language, the mill levy would be used for attracting and retaining teachers and staff, enhancing safety and security, providing mental health and other support services and maintaining programs including art, music, technology and physical education.

After the 9 p.m. results were released, showing the mill levy question being defeated by roughly 53% to 47%, Eagle County Board of Education President Michelle Stetcher said she wished the mill levy had found “a little more local support.”

Stetcher added that district officials were more confident in 5B — which was passing at 9 p.m. by a 52% to 47% margin — particularly since the ballot language stated the debt would be issued without raising taxes.

Stetcher added the district is likely to try again with a mill levy increase question, but wasn’t sure when that might happen.

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The mill levy increase and its boost to district revenue were deemed essential for the district to attract and retain staff. “We’re losing great talent,” Stetcher said Tuesday afternoon, adding that the district had to dip into its reserve funds to cover the last pay boost for teachers.

But, Stetcher added, passing the bond issue is also important, particularly for projects including building workforce housing, improvements to elementary schools, a new early childhood center in Gypsum and an extensive remodeling project on the early childhood center in Edwards.

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In a text message after the 9 p.m. results were announced, Education Foundation of Eagle County President Wendy Rimel thanked voters for approving the bond issue.

“The funds from 5B allow the district to keep building affordable housing in areas where it is most needed,” Rimel wrote. “Now the district can build housing in Gypsum and continue projects in Maloit Park. … We can’t thank the voters enough for this positive outcome.”

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