$42M tax increase proposal for School District 11 to be on ballot

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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) - The Board of Education for Colorado Springs School District 11 unanimously passed a resolution that will allow voters to decide if the district's taxes should be increased to $42 million. The board passed the resolution Wednesday night.

The question will be posed on the November ballot. The largest school district in Colorado Springs says it's desperate for more funding.

A similar proposal failed to pass last year.

Most of the money, more than 41 percent, will go toward building maintenance. More than 30 percent will be for recruitment and retention of quality staff. The rest includes school safety, charter schools, class size and technology.

“The building, the facilities, the playgrounds, the teacher salaries -- there’s a lot of room for improvements,” said resident Susan Gilliland, who supports the proposal.

Right now, Colorado ranks 41st in the country for student spending. The district says if they stay on track with the little funding they have now, they'll continue to fall behind other districts in the area.

“I think public education is really important," Gilliland said. "My child, my son, went through all District 11 schools, I went through all District 11 schools, and I would hate to see that not be a priority anymore.”

With the mill levy override, homeowners in the district will be taxed based on property value. The funding will come in over seven years. If passed, that means for a home worth $250,000, a homeowner would pay $9.42 more per month through 2018. Each year, the money would increase, so by the seventh year in 2024, that same homeowner would pay $15.97 more per month.

“A lot of times, I tend to think they’re just fishing for more money because more money seems to be the quick and easy way to do something,” said homeowner Tom Streelman, who is against the proposal.

The last mill levy was approved nearly 20 years ago in 2000. From that, the district gets about $1,000 per student. The district says with inflation and budget cuts since then though, they aren't getting that money anymore.

Many homeowners often ask the district if money from marijuana taxes can be used, but District 11 says they don't see any of that funding.

“Contrary to popular belief, marijuana money is not fixing public schools," said District 11 spokesperson Devra Ashby. "In fact, District 11 has not seen a dime of any pot tax.”

The district says that marijuana money comes from the state. Because District 11 is in a populated area with tourist attractions including the downtown corridor and the Garden of the Gods business sector, they have a "high-assessed evaluation," meaning they likely won't see any of that funding. Instead, most of the money from marijuana taxes go toward rural districts.

For more information on the proposal, click here.