Voters approve both school tax requests | VailDaily.com

Voters approve both school tax requests

EAGLE — Eagle County voters approved the largest tax increase in county history, approving a pair of school district proposals.

With about 800 ballots left to count, voters gave the school district the green light for two things:

• Permission to borrow $144 million to build and renovate buildings and facilities — with interest, it carries a $230 million total price tag. The school board created a point system to keep as much of that money local as possible.

• Increase operating revenue by $8 million a year. None of that $8 million goes to the school district's central administration staff.

The victory culminates a classic grassroots campaign that started a year and a half ago with a long series of community meetings. That campaign was taken up by the Education Foundation of Eagle County.

"We are deeply grateful and humbled by the passage of 3A and 3B," said Jason Glass, superintendent of Eagle County schools. "These resources will bring about a true transformation of our local school system."

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The school board helped its cause when it announced a point system to give local contractors the inside track in getting some of that business. Also helpful was the $1.2 billion overall economic impact of that $144 million bond.

The bond money will be spread among renovations and building projects in schools throughout the valley, concentrating in the Eagle and Gypsum area, where the most growth is projected. Red Sandstone Elementary School in Vail is also due for a significant renovation.

"From the outside, our communities will have state-of-the-art, beautiful buildings that are safe and energy efficient," Glass said. "Inside, our students, teachers, and staff will have the resources they need to deliver on this community's high expectations for education."

Effects of Great Recession

When the 2008 recession hit, the school district's state funding was slashed $14 million over two years. The district shed 90 jobs. The school district's deferred maintenance list now tops $12 million, according to an independent facilities study.

"We are incredibly excited to get started — the voters of Eagle County have given us what we need to build something genuinely great," Glass said.

The school district takes the biggest bite of your property tax dollar. Of Eagle County's 107 taxing entities, 36 percent goes to Eagle County Schools.

The school district tax increases join three other property tax increases voters approved in May that kick in beginning in 2017: the Eagle County Health Services (ambulance) District, the Eagle River Fire Protection District covering Edwards and Avon, and the Gypsum Fire Department.

But Eagle County voters were willing to carry the additional tax burden. For the school district, that levy adds another $40 per year for every $100,000 of a residential property's assessed value. Second homeowners pay 60 percent of Eagle County's residential property taxes.

Commercial property is taxed at three times the rate of residential property.

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

3A

Property tax increase for $8 million annual operating revenue

Yes 10,418

No 7,031

Partial results

3B

Borrows $144 million for building renovation and rebuilding

Yes 9,090

No 8,290

Partial results