Summit County voting guide for Nov. 7 election

Jack Queen

The Nov. 7 election for Summit County is upon us, and although it won’t be as exciting as last year’s, there are still important votes, including a funding measure that would prevent millions of dollars in lost tax revenue for Colorado Mountain College.

Ballot issue 4B would allow CMC’s board of trustees to recover revenues lost because of the Gallagher Amendment to the state constitution, which effectively reduces tax revenues as residential property values rise.

Rapid growth in Front Range home values has thus put pressure on CMC’s budget. If 4B is passed, it would allow the school to adjust its mill levy in response to any future Gallagher reductions.

In recent weeks, school leaders have been drumming up support for the measure across CMC’s district, which covers six counties in the High Country.

“Voting ‘yes’ to 4B means, as an individual, you are giving up the equivalent of one cup of coffee ($3) for every $100,000 of assessed property value in your home,” CMC co-founder David Delaplane wrote in a latter to the Vail Daily last week. “Left unchecked, Gallagher’s impact can only go one direction: toward zero.”

Gallagher, passed in 1982, established a fixed ratio of commercial to residential property tax revenues to insulate taxpayers from surging home values. Since then, however, growth in the two sectors has been imbalanced, and the residential rate has steadily been adjusted down from 21 percent of revenue to 7.2 percent this year.

There are also elections for three CMC Board of Trustees posts on the ballot, although only one, western Garfield county’s district three, is contested. That vote pits Parachute resident and longtime educator Peg Portscheller against former Rifle mayor Randy Winkler.

Those two items will be the only ones on the ballot this year for residents of unincorporated Summit County and the towns of Blue River, Breckenridge, Frisco and Montezuma.

Dillon and Silverthorne residents will be considering whether or not to opt-out of a 2005 state law that prohibits local governments from investing in broadband.

At least 65 cities and towns across the state, including Breckenridge, have called a vote on the issue, and all of them have chosen to opt out, according to the Colorado Municipal League.

Dillon residents will also be voting on a measure that would allow the town to bond against the 5A workforce housing construction funds, ensuring that the town can move forward with projects when they become available.

The 5A fund draws revenue from a tax increase approved by Summit County voters last year. It amounts to six cents for every $10 spent and is expected to raise between $75 and $80 million over the next decade, or $7 to $8 million a year.

According to the ballot language, the bonded money could be used for planning, financing, acquiring, constructing, reconstructing or repairing workforce-housing projects.

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