Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Mill levy committee not ready to suggest assessment rate for REIJ

Waiting on results of vote on 73

By Anika Pepper

The local Re1J school district Fund 26 Oversight Committee met at the end of September and recommended a reduction in the amount to be assessed in the coming year for the mill levy override. The committee is made up of local citizens who oversee the funds brought in through a 2014 school district mill levy. The committee makes recommendations to the school board, which ultimately sets the mill levy.

Because of the uncertainty of school funding next year, especially if a proposal on this November’s election ballot known as Amendment 73 is approved, the committee is waiting to see exactly what the new assessment rate should be. School district superintendent Dr. Leslie Nichols has said if Amendment 73 is approved by state voters it is expected to bring in approximately $3.2 million to the Re1J district next year, with an increase up to 5 percent annually for inflation.

The mill levy override contributed approximately $2.4 million to the school district last year.

For the past three years, the Gunnison Watershed REJ1 School District board has typically assessed less than the full amount it could collect based on the Oversight Committee’s recommendation. Only in the first year of assessments in 2015 did the district recommend collection of the full amount approved by voters.

The Fund 26 Oversight Committee is not currently ready to make their specific recommendation for the 2019 assessment rate, but they are meeting again immediately following the election in November. The 2019 assessment rate will be based on several factors, including the legislature’s allocation money to the Re1J, whether Amendment 73 passes, and the needs of the district based on the Fund 26 funding priorities.

Fund 26 has helped make up the state’s funding shortfall and has helped pay for things such as the school district’s STEM program, full-day kindergarten, and restoring math intervention, counseling, library media technology, special education and other critical student programs that were cut due to reductions in state funding.

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