Lots to decide 

November 3 ballot stuffed with school board races, tax hikes

Voters across the Pikes Peak region face a menu of issues from tax hikes to revenue retention in the Nov. 3 coordinated election. They'll also elect school board members and, in Falcon District 49, choose a new method of selecting board members.

Not all voters will vote on all things, of course. What questions you'll ponder will depend on where you live. But all voters will weigh in on state Proposition BB.

Referred to the ballot by legislators, a "yes" vote would permit the state to keep $58 million in revenues from recreational marijuana sales rather than refund the money to taxpayers as required by the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights. TABOR requires revenues collected in excess of certain caps to be refunded or voter permission sought to keep the money.

The ballot measure states the money will be spent on school construction, law enforcement, youth programs, and marijuana education and prevention programs.

Tax-related issues also will be decided by residents of several towns, Colorado Springs, Manitou School District 14 and two small fire protection districts.

In Manitou Springs, Issue 2E asks voters whether the city may retain $57,993 in excess revenue from its retail marijuana tax. The money will otherwise be refunded to customers at retail marijuana stores via a temporary reduction in the tax.

Issues 2F and 2G, respectively, ask to retain an existing .8-mill property tax and a .1-percent sales tax that otherwise will expire in 2020. If approved, the taxes would stay in place through the end of 2032 and be used for the acquisition and care of lands, parks, open spaces and scenic vistas.

School District 14 also has a money question, Issue 3B, asking voters to approve continuing a property tax that would generate $1.8 million in 2016. The ongoing tax would be used for general expenses such as staff and the maintenance and upgrades of school buildings.

Besides all that, Manitou voters will decide seven housekeeping items and elect members of the D-14 board of education and Manitou City Council.

There are just two school board candidates for three positions: Todd Nagel and Steven Weimer. The latter was appointed to the board in 2014.

Manitou City Councilor Nicole Nicoletta and Mayor Pro Tem Coreen Toll are facing off for mayor. Randy Hodges, who currently serves as an at-large councilor, is the sole candidate running for the Ward 1 seat on Council. Three at-large council seats are also up for grabs. Candidates include: incumbent Councilor Gary Smith, incumbent Councilor Donna Ford, current Ward 1 Councilor Becky Elder, Dan Prem, David Walker, Jay Rohrer, Paotie Dawson and Abbey Steger.

Colorado Springs voters will decide Issue 2C, a .62 of a percent sales tax increase to be used exclusively to fix deteriorating roads. The new tax will raise the city's total sales tax figure to one of the highest in the state, detractors argue, but the $50 million per year is needed to tackle years of deferred maintenance, Mayor John Suthers and most City Council members argue. Suthers has vowed to farm out all the work to private contractors. The tax would become effective Jan. 1.

Colorado Springs voters also will decide Issue 2D, a question about whether the city gets to keep $2.1 million in revenue collected above the TABOR cap in 2014. All the money would be spent on trails.

Palmer Lake voters face Issue 2A, a property tax increase of 8 mills, a 50 percent increase of the existing 16.459 mill levy. If it's approved, the owner of a $250,000 house would pay $159 more per year in property taxes — increasing the tax bill to $487 from $328. All the money would go to beef up the Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department, improve response times, replace aging vehicles and renovate a fire station. The tax would become effective with 2016 property tax bills payable in 2017.

Monument voters are being asked, in Issue 2B, not for a tax increase per se, but rather to permit the town to retain all tax revenue, including amounts that exceed the TABOR cap, from 2016 through 2019. The money would be used for parks, recreation and senior services. The measure would set a new base for TABOR with 2019 collections.

Elbert Fire Protection District is proposing Issue 4A, a $95,411 property tax increase of 3.925 mills. The current mill levy is 4.575 mills. The extra money would be used to add part-time paid personnel, increase water sources and maintain fire equipment. The extra revenue wouldn't be subject to TABOR revenue caps.

Hanover Fire Protection District patrons will decide Issue 5A, an increase in the property tax mill levy of 2.28 mills, bringing the total to 7 mills. It's now 4.72 mills. The money would help fund personnel, operations and equipment. The increase would become effective for taxes paid in 2016, and would be exempt from TABOR revenue caps.

School districts across the region will elect board members. The only metro districts on the ballot this year are:

Colorado Springs School District 11, where four slots will be filled. The candidates are: current Vice President/Board member Elaine Naleski, current treasurer/Board member Nora Brown, Jeff Kemp, Martin Herrera, Dan Ajamian, Theresa Null and Karla Heard-Price.

Falcon School District 49, with two slots open. The only candidates are John Graham and current Secretary/Board member Marie LaVere-Wright.

D-49 also is seeking approval of Question 3A, which asks permission to change the Board of Education from all at-large representatives to five district representatives. If voters approve the change, it would go into effect starting with the 2017 school board elections.


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