Ballot issue sweep
Vote yes on 66, AA, MCHD 5D, and 5A, 5B, 5C
MONTEZUMA COUNTY HOSPITAL DISTRICT: BALLOT QUESTION 5D
The Montezuma County Hospital District owns the facilities and land that house two critical regional health care providers: Southwest Memorial Hospital in Cortez and Mancos Valley Health Center in Mancos. In providing those facilities, the district is an essential partner in the region’s health care. Ballot Question 5D would allow MCHD to receive grants it cannot currently accept under limits imposed by the Taxpayers Bill of Rights.
There are no tax implications associated with 5D. By lifting the restrictions, MCHD would be able to apply for and accept $1 million in grant funding; it is currently limited to just $27,000 annually.
In approving Ballot Question 5D, MCHD voters will be making a cost-free but priceless investment in the region. Vote yes on 5D.
LEWIS-ARRIOLA FIRE DISTRICT: REFERENDUMS 5B AND 5C
As a large, rural district staffed by volunteers, Lewis-Arriola is challenged to keep up with equipment needs, including stations large enough to house both personnel and gear, sufficient to provide adequate service to its far-flung residents.
Referendum 5B would exempt the district from TABOR spending limits, allowing it to collect and spend more revenue. Referendum 5C would increase the district’s mill levy from 3.09 to 5.0. That jump would move Lewis-Arriola from dead-last in the mill levy rankings for Montezuma County fire districts, to tied for last place with Pleasant View Fire District.
It is a modest increase that would fund needed investments for the all-volunteer department. Vote “yes” on 5B and 5C.
CORTEZ FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICT: REFERENDUM 5A
The Cortez Fire Protection District is asking its voters for a mill levy increase of 2.5 percent to provide approximately $361,000 in additional annual funding. That translates to just under $30 a year in additional property tax for a $150,000 home.
The boosted coffers would allow the district to retain and recruit sufficient staff, as well as ensure that its personal safety gear and emergency equipment is updated and in line with national standards.
These are important investments in community safety as well as that of our firefighters and emergency responders. Vote “yes” on the Cortez Fire Protection District’s Referendum 5D.
Amendment 66 is much more than another new tax for Colorado’s schools. The $1 billion it will raise in its first year will return Colorado public school funding to its prerecession level, with the money used in targeted ways that have been shown to increase student learning.
That means more teachers to reduce class sizes, more classroom aides and additional preschool funding. It also will give school principals more authority in how they run their schools (those closest to the students know best) and require more transparency in how district money is spent. That the $1 billion will be spent in those effective ways is not optional.
Also imbedded in Amendment 66 is the end of Amendment 23, which required that state school funding be increased annually by the amount of inflation plus 1 percent. The extra 1 percent expired after 10 years, but having to increase spending by the inflation rate remains a burden. Given how much of the state’s budget is spent on schools, that requirement continues to prevent the Legislature from being able to realistically provide for other state needs.
If Amendment 66 does not pass, there is no certainty as to whether local school districts will attempt to increase local funding to meet their needs. But if they do, they almost certainly will look to the property tax. That is not a desirable next step, and school funding is in need of a boost. Vote “yes” on Amendment 66.
Proposition AA’s meaning is simple: If approved by the voters, it would impose a 15 percent excise tax on recreational marijuana sold wholesale to retailers, a 10 percent sales tax on retail sales (in addition to regular sales tax) and grant the Legislature the authority to raise or lower both taxes as long as neither exceeds 15 percent.
Voters should approve it. The idea all along has been to treat marijuana like alcohol – legalize it, regulate it and tax it. As such, this fits right in with what the voters understood to be the plan last year when they decided to legalize recreational marijuana. (This would not apply to medical marijuana.)
Whether marijuana should be legal is not at issue. The voters decided that last year. The question now is simply whether to tax it and by how much. And given the tax rate set by Proposition AA can be adjusted by the Legislature, voters face a simple question with a one-word answer.
Vote “yes” on Proposition AA to tax recreational marijuana.