Horizons proposes mill levy | CraigDailyPress.com

Horizons proposes mill levy

Brandon Johnson

Moffat County commissioners voted Tuesday to let voters decide on a property tax to benefit Horizons Specialized Services.

The proposed levy, .001 mill, will be put to voters in November. The mill levy would cost a homeowner with a $150,000 house about $12 annually.

Commissioners did not endorse or oppose the mill levy.

“We just gave permission for it to be on the ballot, that’s all,” Commissioner Saed Tayyara said after the meeting.

If voters approve the referendum, Horizon’s $3 million annual operating budget would increase by about $300,000.

Horizons provides services including day care, housing, job training and transportation to people with mental retardation in Northwest Colorado.

The non-profit organization serves people in Moffat, Routt, Rio Blanco, Jackson and Grand counties, but about half of the agency’s work is in Moffat County.

Horizons serves about 70 clients in Moffat County, including 40 adults.

The money from the mill levy in Moffat County will be used for Moffat County residents.

The majority of Horizons’ funding comes from the state, with Moffat County chipping in about $16,000 annually.

Horizons finance director Amy Bowers said Horizons won’t need county funding if the referendum passes.

Horizons executive director Susan Mizen said the organization is asking for the mill levy because state funding isn’t keeping up with costs.

The group has 14 people on its waiting list, six of whom need services immediately.

It can take between seven and 14 years to move off of the waiting list.

“We don’t want to make children and families wait for services,” Mizen told the commissioners.

The mill levy would allow Horizons to get some people off the waiting list and maintain services currently being offered, Mizen said.

Colorado has seven counties with mill levies to support similar services. Weld County will have a referendum on November’s ballot similar to Moffat County’s.

Horizons asked Routt County commissioners to place a referendum on November’s ballot last month, but the commissioners have not made a decision yet.

Commissioners expressed some concerns that November’s ballot will have too many referendums asking for money.

The ballot already has Referendums C and D on it, which ask Colorado voters to let the state keep tax refunds for the next five years.

Commissioners also are considering placing a referendum on the ballot asking Moffat County citizens to let them increase the budget by more than 5.5 percent annually.

“The more (referendums) we have on there, the less chance we have of any of them passing,” Commissioner Darryl Steele said.

Christine Burtt, a political consultant working with Horizons, said she thinks having Referendums C and D on the ballot will help the Horizons mill levy.

She said voters will decide based on “what will do the most good closest to home.”

Since Referendums C and D effect the entire state and the Horizons mill levy will only affect Moffat County, voters are more likely to vote for Horizons, she said.

Chief deputy clerk and recorder Lila Herod said Horizons has until July 22 to turn in a letter saying it intends to have the referendum on the ballot.

Horizons has until Sept. 2 to have the ballot question written.

Brandon Johansson can be reached at 824-7031 or bjohansson@craigdailypress.com

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