PUEBLO – Voters in Pueblo School District 60 will soon decide if they want their tax money used to pay for improvements.
The question: Should taxes increase by $6 million in 2018 and annually after that based on property values? According to D60 Chief Financial Officer David Horner, a homeowner whose residence is valued at $100,000 would pay an extra $43.20 in property taxes every year. As for commercial properties, if one is valued at $500,000 the extra property taxes paid would be $1,050 each year.
On Thursday, the Board of Education voted to put the mill levy override on the November ballot. The 3-2 vote, along with public comment, showed that there’s still some opposition from board members and Pueblo residents.
D60 Board of Education member Robert Gonzales said, “We’re the only district in the state of Colorado that has never passed a mill levy.”
If passed, here’s what funds from the levy would go towards:
• 50 percent of funds would go towards increasing teacher and staff salaries in equal amounts adjusted for full or part-time status
• 30 percent towards maintaining school buildings and infrastructure
• 20 percent toward improving school safety, security, and mental health services
Ted Johnson, who spoke during public comment, said, “The time to move forward with an MLO is now. It’s an opportunity to invest in our staff, in our infrastructure, and most importantly in our students.”
Cary Palumbo also commented on how “our district is struggling to keep pace with other districts in the state, our buildings are crumbling, and the safety of our staff and students should be our top priority.”
Vice President Frank C. Latino said, “We can’t wait. We need to move forward.”
For others, tackling the mill levy issue isn’t as easy.
Pueblo resident Dean Hall said, “If you put a mill levy on a business they’re going to be paying four times what a residential property of the same valuation does. That tends to make commercial people very shy about any tax increase.”
Board member Dennis Maes said, “There has not been a broad public discussion out there.”
Taylor Voss, another board member, said, “We have an extremely tight timeline and I personally think we’re too late…my proposal is that we spend the next year out in the community talking to groups about a strategic plan and educating people about what our challenges are.”
The mill levy may be on the ballot, but there’s still a lot of discussion that needs to happen. Board members are discussing the possibility of organizing a community oversight committee to help decide exactly how funds will be spent.