Not just the school district…other potential property tax issues

School district, fire districts, Met Rec district…

[ By Mark Reaman ]

The Gunnison Watershed School District is not the only entity considering a possible bond issue in 2021 or 2022. The Crested Butte Fire Protection (CBFPD), the Gunnison Volunteer Fire Department, and the Gunnison County Metropolitan Recreation District (Met Rec) also have property tax measures on the radar while Gunnison County officials held a work session recently to discuss a potential bond measure to address deferred maintenance on road and bridge needs as well.

The CBFPD board is considering a November 2021 ballot measure for a new fire station and headquarters that would be located near the intersection of Gothic and Pyramid Avenue in Crested Butte’s new Aperture subdivision.

“We are not quite as far along in design as the school district so we are working on the design and price estimate now. Everything is very preliminary at the moment,” said CBFPD CEO Sean Caffrey. “We also intend to include a CB Search and Rescue space and some employee housing in the project. I don’t have firm numbers but I think we will land in the $15 million – $25 million range which will translate to somewhere between 2.5 and 3.5 mills or about $22 per year per $100,000 of assessed value on a residential property.”

Caffrey said he should have much better information with more definitive numbers by May.

The Gunnison Volunteer Fire Department is also considering a November tax issue to help fund a new fire station. According to Fire Chief Hugo Ferchau the current station is 50 years old and in definite need of an upgrade. “We are having a hard time keeping the weather outside and keeping up with repairs,” he said. “With the new building, we are looking to increase classroom space as well as add some office space and some living quarters to facilitate a possible resident program. We are not looking to transition to a paid firefighting staff at this time, we are definitely looking to preserve the volunteer nature of our department.  We are early in the planning stage and while our goal is to make the ballot this November, we are not going to rush anything. We do recognize that the cost of building is rapidly rising, so sooner rather than later makes sense to get the most value we can.”

The Met Rec board has begun preliminary discussions about asking voters for a property tax increase to solidify recreation funding in the valley. At the March 17 meeting the board agreed to explore the idea of a possible mill levy to be put before voters in the fall of 2022. Before making a decision, the board wants to solicit public feedback on the idea and develop a strategy on how best to craft a possible ballot issue. One idea is to focus on a mill levy question in the north valley that would fund recreation needs north of Round Mountain.

“A ballot initiative is recognized as an important tool for Met Rec to further support community recreation needs, and a positive step-change in the organization’s continued growth,” explained Met Rec district manager Hedda Peterson. “As a next step, this summer the Met Rec will be engaging its north and south recreation advisory committees and other partners to develop a planning process to outline the potential need for a future ballot initiative.”

The RE1J school district is in the process of evaluating a potential $98 million property tax increase request to voters for the coming fall. A citizen’s task force is holding a series of meetings to discuss what might fly with voters. The primary project would be an expansion of the Crested Butte Community School facility on the current site that is already beyond capacity. The school district is currently using modular classrooms to make up for the lack of classroom space. The school board will have the final decision on whether to pursue the bond issue in 2021 or later.

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