During its combined annual planning retreat, work session and August meeting on Wed. Aug. 28, the Colorado Mountain College Board of Trustees voted unanimously to place on the November ballot an initiative to ask voters to annex the Salida School District into the CMC taxing district the area it serves.
The Salida School District board voted earlier this month to ask their own voters whether they should join the CMC district. In order for the annexation to take place, following state law voters both in the district being annexed and those throughout the college district must vote in favor of the annexation.
The unanimously vote to place the question on the November 2019 ballot also approved the ballot language as follows:
“Without increasing taxes to the current residents of the Colorado Mountain College District, shall the Colorado Mountain College District be enlarged to include property within the boundaries of Salida School District Number R32J?”
The last school district to be successfully annexed into the CMC district was the Steamboat Springs School District in 1982. The decision by the CMC trustees to support the annexation of the Salida School District, was based on findings from a feasibility study, the Salida School District is a viable community for annexation into the CMC tax district.
According to their research, the educational needs that can be met by CMC are similar to the rest of the CMC district. The Salida School District tax boundary includes Monarch Mountain and dozens of other outdoor outfitters including anglers and boaters. The district includes a business and government center of the Arkansas river Valley, and within its boundaries lies a Colorado Creative District certified by Colorado Creative Industries, a division of the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International trade.
The area has already shown itself to value education; in fact adults living within the school district have more education than the state average, mirroring other CMC communities. IN addition, CMC points out that not only is the Salida community is growing at a faster rate than the rest of the state as a whole, the birth rate is growing faster than the death rate. Which means the area is attractive for younger professionals with children.
The study also reflected a small but growing Hispanic immigrant population in Salida and Poncha Springs, with strong potential enrollment across programs. While many mountain towns have no room to grow – Salida has space to grow.
Most importantly, one age group experiencing negative grwoth is the 18-to-20-year-old population; which suggests that high school graduates are leaving the area for college due to the absence of post-secondary opportunities.
The Salida School District is within the college’s three-county service area, but not is not currently within its six-county taxing district. Residents living within the service area pay tuition of $170 per credit hour, while those living within the taxing district pay $80 per credit hour. The lower tuition rate is because taxpayers within the CMC district pay a 3.997 mill levy that supports the college, a mill levy the CMC trustees point out, that has not changed in several decades.
If the Salida School District were to join the CMC district, those taxpayers would pay that same mill levy. However, adding the Salida School District to the CMC district would have no impact on current taxpayers within the CMC district.