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Letter: We pay too much for CMC

Buddy Sims
Eagle County Property Taxpayers for Common Sense
Edwards, CO Colorado

The Colorado Mountain College (CMC) is without a doubt a plus to Eagle County and provides super educational advantages to students attending, but should the Eagle County Taxpayers be footing a 38 percent one-year jump in property taxes to support this institution?

Take a look at the six counties and see who is contributing to CMC in 2008:

Eagle County CMC 3.997 mill levy for a $3.475 million 38 percent tax increase

Pitkin County CMC 3.997 mill levy for a $3.168 million 40.9 percent tax increase

Summit County CMC 3.997 mill levy for a $1.150 million 22.7 percent tax increase

Garfield County 3.997 mill levy for $1.041 million 10.5 percent tax increase

Routt County CMC 3.997 mill levy for a $987,665K 38.6 percent tax increase

Lake County CMC 3.997 mill levy for a $226,588K 8 percent tax increase

The CMC Eagle County 2007 property taxes payable in 2008 increased by $3.475 million (38 percent). Per Dr. Bob Spuhler, CMC President’s letter “the tax revenues go into one pot to support campuses across our district.” He reported at the Feb. 8 concerned citizens meeting that his 3.997 mill levy would remain the same because “By statute, the college can’t change its Mill levy in one county without changing it in all.” He said his Board of Trustees chaired by Board President, Doris Dewton, “voted to increase reserves so that we are able to cushion the blow of a bust, as we learned from the economic downturn in the early 1980s.” They also knew that the windfall 2008 CMC tax revenues would increase by over $10 million across the board with the same or larger corresponding increases in years to follow.

The CMC Board of Trustees is one of the 63 Taxing Authorities (TAs) that collects property taxes and has an impact on our yearly property tax notices. Granted their 3.997 mill levy seems relatively small, but the comparison above does show how their mill levy results in providing over $10 million per year in six counties. It was reported in the Aspen Times on Dec 13th, 2007 that CMC is building a $14 million new facility in Summit County which will draw upon the CMC reserve fund through completion.

Eagle and Pitkin County taxpayers are especially being hit hard with these bills (2006 to 2007 Assessed Values in Eagle jumped from $2.2 billion to $3.1 billion and Pitkin from $2.8 billion to $3.06 billion and CMC Eagle tax revenues jumped from $9.1 million to $12.6 million and Pitkin from $7.7 million to $10.9 million). My point in making all these comparisons is that the CMC President and Board of Trustees knowingly voted to maintain a 3.997 mill levy that would over-fund their budget with windfall monies at the expense of the property taxpayers in six counties. Plus without a CMC mill levy reduction in years to come, CMC will be adding at a minimum $10 million every year.

There are two sides to this TAs and Taxpayers’ story but CMC needs to give all of us a break at the next setting of their mill levy in December. We ask for a reasonable 5.5 percent CMC property tax increase. How about putting your TABOR “opting out” back on the ballot in Nov 2008 for the voters to take another look? By the way, the Town of Aspen in Pitkin County lowered their mill levy!


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