Election Day 2018

Julia Johnston, Mark Sterdevant, Tyler Simmons and Dean Rolley did their homework with the Blue book before casting their votes Friday afternoon. (Photo by Melissa Plantz/Telluride Daily Planet)

Voters said yes to property tax hikes requested on this election’s ballots that will help support the fire, school and hospital districts. Each of those measures passed with convincing margins, ensuring that voter approved funding will be in place to compensate for funding shortfalls brought about by declining property tax revenues.

At the heart of each of those districts’ requests for mill levy increases was shrinking revenues brought about by requirements written into the state’s Gallagher amendment to the constitution and the Taxpayers’ Bill of Rights (TABOR).

For the school district, the $1.2 million in annual revenue the district will receive as a result of the approval of Ballot Issue 4A will be used for attracting and retaining high quality teachers, general operations, programming, and maintaining class sizes. The local ballot issue was linked to Amendment 73, which sought to bolster public education funds on the state level by taxing those earning more than $150,000 per year. If Amendment 73 had passed, the school would not have imposed the mill levy increase. Since 73 failed, local support for the school district was gratifying to school officials.

“It’s exciting,”  Superintendent Mike Gass said. “We set out to offer a solid education and going forward our funding is secure.”

Gass noted that despite the state effort to plug gaps in education funding with Amendment 73, the need to keep the local district supported was evident.

“People stepped up to take care of local kids,” he said. “Voters see that the value in the investment in education is a good return for the local community.”

As part of the ballot language on 4A, its passage means that the school district is legally restricted from requesting any future mill levy overrides. 4A was approved by 64 percent of the district’s voters.

Officials with the Telluride Fire Protection District were equally pleased with the results of Tuesday night’s election, which, like the school district, saw 6A pass by a comfortable margin of more than 70 percent for and 30 percent against it. Ballot Issue 6A gives the district not only an increase of 2 mills, but also allows them to “de-Gallagherize,” which will freeze the percentage of a residential property’s value used to calculate residential tax rates at 7.2 percent. Two mills amounts to approximately $14 per $100,000 of a home’s value.

Deputy Chief David Wadley expressed gratitude on behalf of the fire district.

“I’m happy for the community,” Wadley said. “I’m happy people took the time to understand the reasoning for needing the funds. This puts us in a great position to provide the services we’ve always provided going forward.”

Ballot Issue 6B was put forth by the Telluride Hospital District and saw resounding voter approval. Proponents of the measure said the increased taxes, which will realize $960,851 in 2019, would cost $9 per each $100,000 of a home’s assessed value. The district will use the funds for general operating, including maintaining 24-hour emergency services and updating equipment. The district will also be able to adjust the mill levy rate in the future to offset the affects of the Gallagher amendment. More than 70 percent of voters approved 6B.

According to the San Miguel County website’s election results page, 3,997 ballots were cast. There are 6,555 registered voters in the county. 

Election results can be reviewed by visiting sanmiguelcountyco.gov and clicking on Elections page.