Craig resident proposes mill levy, foundation to offset school budget cuts

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Chris Jones

At its regular meeting Monday, the Moffat County School Board:

• Approved, 7-0, the second reading of policy 3517.2, regarding security and access to buildings.

• Approved, 7-0, the second reading of policy 4135, regarding supplemental employment of retired staff members.

• Approved, 7-0, the second reading of policy 1210.1, regarding visitors to schools.

• Approved, 7-0, adopting a resolution from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund.

• Heard reports from members of the Swim Pool Task Force.

• Postponed first readings on policies 5600 and 6190 until April.

Craig resident Chris Jones expressed concern Monday night to the Moffat County School Board over looming state budget cuts.

Jones told school board members he moved back to Craig with his family two years ago, and has a daughter in first grade and a son in preschool.

“To put it in Texas Hold ‘Em terms, I’m all-in,” he said. “I’ve got the next 12 to 13 years of education for my kids here, so I’m very concerned about now, two years from now, five years from now, 10 years from now.”

Jones gave the school board two ideas to help the school district offset funds potentially lost in upcoming state budget cuts.

He proposed a mill levy increase or generating money through a private foundation to increase revenue.

School board president Jo Ann Baxter said the school board needs to focus on the current budget, which will be finalized in June. However, she said the school board would revisit his proposal in May or June.

Jones said that based on his research, a mill levy increase could raise up to $1.7 million for the school district.

Mark Rydberg, school district finance director, said the largest mill increase the school district could propose is 25 percent of total program. Total program is per pupil funding multiplied by the pupil count before the state’s stabilization factor.

Rydberg said the mill levy is currently about 14 percent of total program. He said the last mill levy override was in 1997 for $1.9 million, which the school will continue to receive.

“The difference between where we’re at, about 14 percent of our total program, to the 25 (percent) is about $1.7 million,” he said.

Craig City Council member Ray Beck attended the meeting and asked what the cost would be to taxpayers if the mill levy was increased.

Rydberg said the current cost averages about $55 per year per house valued at $150,000.

If the mill was bumped to 20 percent — adding about $1 million in revenue — the cost per year would increase to about $80 a year. Increasing to 25 percent would raise costs to about $100 per year.

Jones acknowledged a levy increase wouldn’t be the answer to all of the district’s financial struggles, but that it would bring in a large amount of money in a short time.

If an approach was taken to raise money through a foundation, Jones said there would need to be some “seed money” to help start it. There would also need to be businesses or alumni to contribute money, followed by a pledge drive.

He said the foundation and the school district would handle money received by the foundation.

Baxter said she doubted school board members would object to the ideas, but questioned how voters would respond. She also mentioned the difficulty of launching a mill levy campaign.

Jones said he had not visited with any service organizations or social groups to gauge interest in the ideas. But, he said he would welcome the challenge of overcoming any voter resistance.

“I just don’t know if we can wait and let voter apathy subside until the economy gets better,” Jones said.

School board member Trish Snyder felt the ideas were a good way to reach out to parents.

“I hear, too, from some parents,” she said. “They don’t know what to do (to help with budget cuts). It may be a successful campaign to reach out to them with something concrete to latch onto and help with.”

School board member Andrea Camp said if the ideas were not used, the cost of budget cuts would likely end up coming back to parents in the form of fees.

“One way or the other, we’re going be paying that money out of our pocket,” she said. “I’d rather be paying that money and putting it into the district before we have to make those cuts.”

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Comments

taxslave 3 years, 8 months ago

The county just scored 1.3 million. There's your money. The failure of the tourism tax should be a clear indication of what people think about more taxes, fees, etc.

As the greatest depression marches on "in your face", raising taxes is not the road to follow.

You might want to try and manufacture IOSAT tablets for those who want to live. Radiation/plutonium fallout very real across usa and no IOSAT to be found on the planet. Ill winds are a blowin'.

Be well Moffat county, I'm outta here! Make peace with our Lord and King of Kings Jesus Christ...time is short and just like in the days of Noah, people will be eating and drinking and raising taxes.

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onewhocares 3 years, 8 months ago

As taxslave states "The county just scored 1.3 million." What more needs to be said? Schooling should be a top priority & the funds earned from the oil/gas leases should go towards educating the kids. At least something positive will come from the destruction of the environment.

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Jon Pfeifer 3 years, 8 months ago

I am probably in the minority, but I would certainly support an increased mill levy for local education. Especially if that were accompanied by a decrease in the mill levy for the fire district, as their coffers seem to be overflowing. (Although I recall the bill for the fire district being pretty low... so I don't think this will offset things).

From what I understand, we are one of the lowest funded school districts in Colorado. The mill levy would only go to local schools. I would definitely sacrifice $45 extra per year. That's $3.75 per month. I can think of a lot of things in my budget that I would sacrifice to make up for the education cuts going on right now. One less time eating fast food. Would probably do me good.

I'm not saying that spending is the miracle pill for education, because it is not. But trying to remedy problems in educating children while drastically cutting education funding seems much more difficult. This move would make Moffat County more competitive, at a time when most areas will likely be slashing budgets. (And perhaps those leases will turn into long term royalties at some point).

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MattBeckett 3 years, 8 months ago

As a home owner I would gladly pay the additional monies to help our schools. Thank you Chris for being involved as a parent and taxpayer and taking the time to develop and present a feasible option to a serious problem. On a side note the fire district mill levy cost the owner of a $100,000 home in the fire district $27.96 and the entire fire district mill levy budget could not offset the cuts our school district is being forced to make. Chris presents an excellent solution at a minimal cost. If we want our kids to have the quality education they deserve we need to support it not by blogging but by putting our money where our mouths scratch that by putting our money where our anonymous keyboards are.

Matt Beckett

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wellwell 3 years, 8 months ago

Chris Jones set before the school board two ways to increase funding. It was not just that, it was a enthusiastic determination to set things in motion. Others school districts have had to move in the non-traditional ways to get money. If we want lowered taxes and more local control we need to accept just what is given us OR step up to the plate. Chris Jones has stepped up to the plate to get things moving. Will you join him?

Mark Rydberg, the finance director, had the cost to the taxpayer at the ready to explain those costs. Thanks for being right and ready for the discussion.

Again, other towns and cities have had to be proactive to looking at the future. Setting up foundations is another way to seek funding. This really takes a community to get together and get seed money, continuing to seek backers that will give steady money to the cause. Ready to step up to the plate?

Another help is the mineral lease money. It may have a portion already going to schools.

Just a word about shifting money from fund to fund. When we voted for monies to be used in a specific manner we would expect it to be used in that manner. We can't complain about monies being moved from fund to fund (which is wrong when it is a dedicated fund) and then casually suggest that fire money goes to schools or that all mineral lease money go to schools. Let's stay on a responsible track of funded monies.

Lastly, we all need to expect less funding and more responsible local funding and continue effective spending only. Expensive trips with high price lodging, meals, and entertainment on the taxpayer should be cut. NO, you are not owed that by your hard work!!!

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justthefacts 3 years, 8 months ago

Read My Scribble: NO NEW TAXES!!!

Fact: The community already passed one mill levy override for $1.7 million dollars.

Fact: The community passed a bond issue to build a new school that was not needed ( Sandrock Elementary), and to upgrade the other schools.

Fact: Sandrock has some of the lowest test scores in the state.

Fact: A school system and school board that is failing the community and ill preparing it's students for college, wants another $1.7 Million!!!!! ??????

Fact: Mr. Jones should have moved to Steamboat Springs if he wants his kids to have a quality education!!!! ( It's not too late!!!!)

Fact: The community gave, and gave again, and will now be ask to give one more time. ( For what,? The same sorry excuse that does not hold water, " We don't get as much money from the state as other poorer communities that have no tax base like Moffat County, We don't know why they do better on test than our students???)

Maybe we as a community are not as smart as other people????? ( If we give any more taxes to this school board to waste, then the proof is in !!!!)

What are the results? What does our continualy giving more taxes to the Moffat County Schools get us? Answer: NOTHING!!!!!

Fact: The community needs to hold it's elected school board members accountable!!! They are not representing Moffat County Tax payers!!! ( Wasted money, poor educational programs, and among them they can't come up with a way make things better or make decisions that have not been make for them by the administration.)

Fact: No Tea Party people when you need them!!!!!! (All talk and wanting someone else to take action!!)

Just The wasted days and wasted school taxes Facts

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wellwell 3 years, 8 months ago

justthefacts:

Are you ready to play the game, "Back Your Facts"? Come on audience give some encouragement!!!

Applause and chanting "Back Your Facts, Back Your Facts, Back Your Facts, Back Your Facts, Back Your Facts......"

Alright then, I guess they want you to "Back Your Facts"!!!!

Last week you didn't "Back Your Facts" will you this week, "Back your Facts"?

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dogfan 3 years, 8 months ago

I think justthefacts is just a bunch of hot air. I have asked numerous times why he is not running for some of these offices seeing as how he is such an expert on everything. To this day no response.

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cclarue 3 years, 8 months ago

Taxslave, will you please take JTF with you when you go???

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saunders 3 years, 8 months ago

blah....blah...blah

I could just imagine how those who wanted, supported and voted in support of the current fire department levy would feel seeing it given it to another special district especially when companies and entities who don't pay into the school coffers suddenly have their monies given away. Seriously do some research before coming on these and blabbing away.

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wellwell 3 years, 8 months ago

@saunders I agree that the intent of the levy was for the fire department. Though I've asked only a couple of staff at the courthouse, both said it was their opinion those monies are not casually shifted to other entities due to targeted funding. It certainly is not like your home monies and if we did better budgeting in our homes we would be able to get thru rough spots better at home.

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