Local group gauging school tax increase support | VailDaily.com

Local group gauging school tax increase support

EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado – A local education foundation is asking voters if they’d support a school tax increase on this November’s ballot.

The Education Foundation of Eagle County is asking local residents to take an online survey to gauge support for a property tax increase.

“EFEC just wants to see what’s possible,” said Diana Scherr, a foundation board member. “We felt it was our duty to determine if we have a shot at this or not.”

If the tax idea moves forward, the foundation won’t run the campaign, Scherr said.

Parents and other supporters launched the foundation last year after $9 million was cut from the school district’s budget over two years. Those cuts impacted 100 school district jobs and the foundation is trying to offset some of those cuts.

Toward that end, the foundation’s board of trustees said it wanted to get a feel for which way the wind is blowing about a possible property tax increase in November. When the survey is in, they say they’ll talk it over with the school board.

In 2011 Eagle County voters defeated a proposed school property tax increase.

During Wednesday afternoon’s work session the school board will hear from representatives of G.K. Baum, a Kansas City firm that specializes in municipal finance. Todd Snidow and Paul Hanley from G.K. Baum will discuss and answer questions regarding property tax rates (mill levy), overrides and bonds. They’ll also talk about timing, turnout and composition of elections. The work session begins at 3:30 p.m.

School finance made simple, sort of

Right now, Colorado’s school finance has lots of moving parts, Scherr said.

A bill making its way though the Colorado state Legislature would overhaul school financing for the first time since 1994.

Among other things, the bill would raise the cap on property taxes local voters could approve. It would also increase state funding for Eagle County’s schools by up to $4.6 million.

Schools are funded through a combination of property taxes, vehicle taxes and state funding.

The school district takes a 33-cent bite of every Eagle County property tax dollar. Eagle County government takes 13 cents, and Colorado Mountain College collects 6 cents of every property tax dollar, according to data from the Eagle County treasurer’s office.

Residential property owners pay about $171 in school taxes for each $100,000 their homes are worth.

Beaver Creek property owners pay more than anyone else in the county.

The Eagle County school district’s 2013 budget includes $51,374,340 in its general fund, the checkbook it uses to conduct day-to-day business. That’s down about $1.5 million from 2012, according to the school district’s budget data.

The school district’s rainy day account – their fund balance – hit an all-time high of $16 million three years ago. The school board decided to dip into it to preserve services during the recession.

State law requires Eagle County’s school district to keep just under $2 million in its fund balance account. The local school board set its minimum limit at $10 million.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or rwyrick@vaildaily.com.

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