Resolution approved for mill levy override

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Voters in the Adams County School District 50 will have a decision on their hands come this November: whether or not to approve a mill-levy override.

On Aug. 13, the school board unanimously approved a resolution placing a $5.25 million mill-levy override question on the Nov. 5 ballot. The increase of 10 mills would cost taxpayers $7.96 per month on a home valued at $100,000, for a total of less than $96 per year. In July the board signaled to voters its intent to move forward with the override.

“While Colorado is strategically moving ahead in finance reform, there is no guarantee that those efforts will be successful,” said District Administrator James Duffy. “If our current school-finance situation remains unchanged, the district will have to continue to have to pay back any short fallings from the state by using operating expenses or reserves, which are one-time funds and once spent are depleted.”

Steve Saunders, communications director for the district, said this is the first mill-levy override put before the voters since 2002, and if approved, will make up for a dramatic reduction in state funding. The district currently receives about $6,900 from the state per student, which dropped from $7,500 four years ago, he said.

“To make up the difference and maintain educational programming over the past several years, the Board of Education dipped into its fund balance,” Saunders said.

Discussions about a mill-levy override began last year during a study session in December when the Adams County School District 50 fiscal oversight committee suggested the school board consider an override question for next November’s election. At that time, committee member Bill Christopher said after the board had to reach into the reserve fund and pull out $4.4 million to balance the 2012-13 budget, the mill-levy-override option is something the board needed to consider.

“We have done bond refinancing, which helps, but we have to think about the future,” Christopher said at the time “The mill-levy increase is an important step that needs to be done in the next couple of years. And it’s something the school board has to decide whether they want to embrace it.”

The ballot language focuses on four key objectives: providing students with instruction and basic skills for success in college and the work place, keeping highly qualified teachers and staff in the classroom, providing each child access to comprehensive education, and providing funds to implement necessary improvements that are conducive to the health and well-being of students.

District 50 voters will already be headed to the polls in November when two seats on the board open up — those of board president Marilyn Flachman, who is term limited, and Sharon Whitehair, who is not running for re-election.