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Relative handful of districts seeking tax hikes

Updated Sept. 9 – Some 20 Colorado school districts are asking for local tax increases in the Nov. 5 election, according to a preliminary list compiled by the Colorado School Finance Project.

The 2012 election saw voters in 29 Colorado school districts approve 34 bond issues and operating revenue increases – plus one sales tax hike – worth just over $1 billion. The 38 proposals on last year’s ballots totaled about $1.03 billion; the amount approved was about $1.01 billion.

This year it looks like districts are seeking only about $140 million in tax support, and $80 million of that would involve continuation of existing taxes, not new levies.

District requests were expected to be down significantly this year to avoid competing with Initiative 22, the proposed $950 state income tax increase that would raise K-12 funding statewide. (That proposal isn’t formally on the ballot yet. The Department of State has until Wednesday to announce whether the proposal has sufficient valid signatures to make the ballot. Supporters are confident they will make the cut.)

The finance project’s initial was issued Sept. 3. Since then two additional proposals have been surfaced, a Lake County $235,000 override proposal in Lake County and a proposed $790,000 override in Meeker. A campaign committee, Yes on 3B, has been formed in the Elizabeth School District in support of an unspecified bond issue.

Here’s a list of projects that were on the initial list:

Bond issue and tax override for operating expenses

  • Canon City – $5.4 million bond issue for building upgrades, $1.3 million override for academic needs

Bond issues

  • Fort Morgan – $18.2 million bond issue, $11 million for a BEST match and $7.2 million for other projects
  • Littleton – $80 million for general upgrades (no tax-rate increase due to refinancing of existing debt)

Bonds to match Building Excellent Schools Today grants

  • Creede – $7.4 million
  • Haxtun – $3.2 million
  • Kim – $2.7 million
  • Limon – $7 million
  • Moffat – $4.5 million
  • South Conejos – $5.5 million

Tax overrides

  • Bennett – $300,000 four-year increase for technology and new buses
  • Cotopaxi – $250,000 for a variety of building and academic needs
  • East Grand – $400,000 for technology upgrades
  • Estes Park – $750,000 general increase (if this and the statewide K-12 tax both pass, the local increase won’t go into effect)
  • Lewis-Palmer – $4.5 million for a variety of academic needs
  • Kit Carson – $175,000 general increases that will go into effect only if statewide K-12 tax passes
  • Westminster – $5.2 million for various instructional upgrades
  • Wiley – $100,000 for general academic needs

The Cheyenne County district also indicated it was seeking an override but didn’t provide details.

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