La Plata County’s off-year election had few ballot questions and candidates, but it could easily be labeled as the election for libraries.
The award-winning Pine River Library in Bayfield will have additional property tax revenue to work with thanks to a decisive 59% to 41% vote in favor of adding 1.5 mills to the district’s current 2.5 mill levy. The funding will make it possible for the library to be open on Sundays, and in the evenings on one or two days during the week. Part-time staff will become full time, and there will be money for technology upgrades and material acquisitions.
The Bayfield library has become a center of activities for all ages in the community, and will be even more so with the Yes vote. To those who advocated for community support after a slightly larger mill levy request failed by a few votes a year ago: Well done.
Voters in the south central and southwestern portions of La Plata County approved, albeit narrowly, the creation of a district with mill levy funding to continue the community hours which have existed at the Fort Lewis Mesa and Sunnyside elementary schools. County funding originally and then two years of School District 9-R sourced grants made the school libraries valuable, diverse educational and social gathering places.
The district’s governing board members now have to be selected, staff hired and borrowing arranged to cover expenses between the June end of the current grants and the receipt in 2020 of the new mill levy funds. We are confident the new district will be well led and the libraries even better utilized. Thanks to the county and to 9-R for their support up to this time, but the coming, very local decision-making will shape operations even more closely to local needs.
9-R school board raceThe single School District 9-R board seat on the ballot saw incumbent experienced educator Stephanie Moran turned out by Kristin Smith, who has a degree in communications and a student in the district.
Moran has taught at all education levels and was a long-time administrator and teacher in Durango’s adult ed program, but Smith campaigned hard, with door-knocking, social media and yard signs. Smith has regularly attended board meetings and said that she has confidence in her collaborative abilities. Smith, in her interview with The Durango Herald’s editorial board, showed she is a quick learner and articulate.
During their campaigns, both Moran and Smith volunteered that they respected one another’s qualities.
Moran’s firsthand familiarity with multiple levels of the complex world of public education will be missed.
Proposition CCBy a handful of votes, the question to retain excess TABOR revenues to support highways and pre K-12 and higher education passed in La Plata County; statewide, however, it failed by a solid margin.
The measure had its advantages, being referred by the state Legislature and with ballot language which began, “Without raising taxes...” It would have been a statute, able to be changed by the Legislature, rather than added to the constitution, but that the language included “permanent” likely played a large role in its defeat.
There have only been three tax refunds since TABOR was initiated in 1992, and amounts have been small. Had CC passed, proceeds would have been far less than what the Colorado Department of Transportation and public educators at both levels say is needed.
Dozens of local taxing districts around the state have “de-Bruced” when it comes to being able to spend revenues beyond the inflation and population increase calculation, but voters clearly said they do not want the state to have that same ability.
CC would not have threatened Coloradans’ right to vote on taxes, which is at TABOR’s core, but it was easy for opponents to create the impression that it would.