This election year will have a lot of tax questions for voters to consider as they sort through ballots that are expected to hit the mail starting on Oct. 17. As our reporters have worked to break down what each community, county and school district is asking for, I have seen a lot of Facebook chatter about just voting no, sometimes citing interesting reasoning.
We can start with the Douglas County School District. It has been interesting to see the comments and opinions posted about the school district asking for a rather sizable bond and mill levy override. One of the main reasons for saying no seems to be centered around distaste for the current school board.
To those saying no solely because of the board elected to the district, I say that may not be the best reason. You see, this funding, if approved, will benefit teachers and the district long after the terms of the seven members currently serving on the board end.
All seven of these board members have behaved in a way that makes citizens shudder. Whether on the minority or the majority, I can say citizens have a reason to be concerned. There are lawsuits, controversies and allegations that spread continuously.
Then, suddenly the board realized it wasn’t the best image to portray when asking voters to dig into their pockets and say yes to spending more money in taxes. Now, they have agreed to work together. Hopefully that continues after Nov. 8.
To those leaning on saying no — I say skip the board argument and look solely at what the district needs. Douglas County School District pays teachers less than neighboring districts. They have fallen behind in several areas.
If you disagree on what the district is saying in terms of how they will use the money — then say no. But, if the sole reason is a dysfunctional board — I would say give it a bit more thought.
Am I endorsing the proposed tax hikes — no. I am just adding to the conversations I am seeing spread throughout the community.
It is no secret that Colorado is not doing exactly what it should be doing at the state level to fund education. If Douglas County wants to continue to reach a level of excellence they require — more money has to come from you to do it.
In other ballot questions throughout the region, cities and towns in Arapahoe and Douglas counties are asking for continued open space taxes, increased lodging taxes and other measures.
As you read through all of these, again, I say do not look at the board approving the measures, but instead how they help or hurt your communities.
Many of these measures are aimed at beefing up public safety. Let’s face it, defunding the police cannot really be an option when Colorado leads the country in car thefts and major crime rates are going up across the Denver metro area.
Instead of judging the board or council, consider what the money pays for.
In 2021, Castle Rock probably got ahead of the crowd by asking voters for four ballot measures on an off year. I remember in discussions, Mayor Pro Tem Kevin Bracken said he was worried too many tax questions may become confusing. They went with four — two passed.
There may be some of that in the 2022 ballot as more tax questions from multiple locations fill the ballot this year.
It may take time to sort through the language and truly make an informed decision. Just saying no could be tough given that the state is held hostage by TABOR, and getting more revenue streams for local municipalities is tough these days.
Thelma Grimes is the south metro editor for Colorado Community Media.
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