Vail Daily letter: Confusing ballot question
October 22, 2016
A lot of folks have put much effort in laying out the benefits in support of the school district's Issue 3B for a loan that will be used for buildings and other important areas. Further, my earlier Vail Daily letter highlighted this effort, by saying the 3B supporters have "a comprehensive display showing where the (3B) monies might go," as shown in their widely distributed "glossy."
But now comes the cost side of the equation. Recently, the voters as a whole, and I assume the supporters, got blindsided by the full facts and legal mumble-jumble language on the actual ballot:
• Surprise: The $144 million loan will take up to $233 million to pay off!
• The "new math": The ballot wording says "shall (school) district taxes be increased up to $18 million annually" (by establishing a new mill levy annually) and not the $6 million per year the $1.44 per month per $100,000 residential property value will raise. Apparently this is somehow explainable.
• Still missing: It does not state how long the new tax will run for — sort of like taking out a mortgage without knowing how long it would take to pay it off. Simple math tells you at $6 million per year, it takes a lot of years to pay off $144 million principal, much less up to the total $233 million with borrowing costs. Again this is somehow explainable.
But what to do now, with folks starting to vote (the proponents having missed an opportunity to publicly explain the ballot mumble-jumble). One one hand, we may assume, in spite of the wording on the ballot, the administrators will do what was advertised. On the other hand, what's to say five or 10 years down the line, a different set of administrators might take up the "new math" to collect up to $18 million annually or find other loopholes to do things not intended by the voters? This is ironic as the bond proposal was to be very transparent from the get-go! In short, my earlier suggestion that understanding school financing takes a college level course, seems to be true just to understand a ballot!
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