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RESEARCHING BALLOT INITIATIVE 3A (MLO FOR D38)

October 14, 2013

Direction38

RESEARCHING BALLOT INITIATIVE 3A Passhat

PUBLISHED IN THE COLORADO SPRINGS GAZETTE

OP/ED PAGE 8 OCTOBER 2013

The following Letter to the Colorado Springs Gazette was published on 8 October 2013 in the OP/ED section of the paper, page 9A.  We have attached it here also because we received it directly from the author, Laura (Price) McGuire of Monument, Colorado.

Published in Colorado Springs Gazette on 10/8/13: OP/ED (page 9A)

 Researching Ballot Initiative 3A

 I’ve become increasingly alarmed with Ballot Initiative 3A as I’ve researched how to vote on the Lewis Palmer School District 38 massive $4.5 million Mill Levy Override. 3A, if passed, will take Tri-Lakes property owners from the 9th highest taxed school district in Colorado to the 3rd out 178 districts! This is a 20% increase in the taxes paid to D38! 3A also imposes additional onerous taxes on local businesses already burdened by the struggling economy.

 I grew up in Monument and graduated from Lewis Palmer High School as have my own children. We’ve benefited from a District that has long been “Accredited with Distinction,” the highest rating given to Colorado public schools. 3A proponents are using emotion-filled messages to imply that our kids will suffer unduly if they don’t secure this hefty MLO.  Perhaps a capped, limited MLO is justified. Instead of 3A, however, let’s look first at applying sound fiscal policies to right the ship.

 Here’s what else I’ve learned about 3A in my research:

  •  This MLO goes on in perpetuity versus a specified timeframe. Plus, I can’t identify any control or accountability measures.
  •  It has no cap as other districts have done. D12 (Cheyenne Mountain) voters capped their MLO at 50 Mills. D38 is already at 51.7 Mills going to 62.2! We’ll be the highest in El Paso County.
  •  In 2010 the current board borrowed $4.1 million by issuing 2 Certificates of Participation to cover operating expenses and refinance 3 capital leases under a 20-year term, obligating D38 taxpayers to pay back the principal PLUS $2.4 million in interest.
  • The current board cut 35 teaching positions, froze teacher salaries and cut programs and services.
  •  The Colorado Department of Education placed D38 on the State Auditor’s Watch List for ‘severe financial distress’ between 2006–2009.

 It’s a weird irony that there is currently a whopping $11 million in the D38 reserve fund, the highest ever according to any data I can find. It appears to me that 3A is the current-day manifestation for fiscal management issues of the recent past. Given the reserves, why did we cut teachers and programs? Why didn’t we just pay off the capital leases in 2013 and 2014? And WHY do we need a $4.5 million MLO that isn’t capped and NEVER sunsets?!

 The hubris of 3A has caught me completely off guard. I’m a hometown girl who has always appreciated the important role our D38 schools have played in galvanizing the community. This is not the Tri-Lakes spirit I’ve known since girlhood. It’s taxpayer usury. Fellow property and business owners, even if you don’t typically vote in off-year elections, you must research 3A carefully. 3A proponents have masterfully spun the “facts” and invoked an “it’s for the kids” tactic to woo us into some emotional vote. The facts just don’t support the need for this MLO.  I’m voting NO on 3A.

 Respectfully submitted,

Laura (Price) McGuire

Monument

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  1. chris abeyta
    October 21, 2013 at 9:26 pm

    Laura,
    I live in Monument. Where can i find the actual bill with the facts and info on the business tax?

    • Anonymous
      October 25, 2013 at 11:42 am

      Hi Chris–you can get additional facts from El Paso County Assessor Mark Lowderman. His email: MarkLowderman@elpasoco.com.

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