Gillian Morris: Invest in future

Gillian Morris: Invest in future

Ninety-two million dollars is a scary number when you hear “Your taxes will go up between 39% and 46%.”

As a residential and commercial property owner, I felt I needed to understand the tax implications when I received an unsigned, two-page letter from the opposition using political scare tactics about the tax burdens on commercial property owners.

As a residential owner, my school property tax is roughly 0.139 percent, and if 3A and 3B pass, it will be .196 percent. As a commercial property owner, my school property tax is .506 percent, and if 3A and 3B pass, it will be .713 percent.

Thanks to TABOR and the recession, our taxes are lower than they have been in 15 years. Currently, on a $500,000 home, you pay $694 in school property taxes, approximately $1.90 per day. If 3A and 3B pass, you will pay $2.64 in school property taxes. That is still less than you were paying in 2007 and far less than what you were paying in 1996, when your home value was one-half what it is now.

The same historic lows apply to commercial property owners. For approximately $1 (residential) to $4 (commercial) per day ($500,000 assessed values), the needs of each school in Steamboat Springs will be addressed, benefitting each child for decades to come — does that sound less scary?

The high school’s location has been central to the conversation. “Don’t tear the high school from downtown. It is the beating heart of downtown.”

Adding onto the high school is one suggestion. This idea neglects the fact that the common spaces (library, auditorium, gymnasiums and parking) are at capacity with no room for expansion.

I agree that the high school is the heartbeat of our city. It will be wherever it is located. It will likely become a stronger heartbeat when it has better facilities to offer the students and the community. The proposed location is a rare opportunity, within city limits, to build a new, state-of-the-art high school. The middle school and elementary schools receive incredible upgrades with this transition as well.

The issue became the scariest when the newspaper ran their editorial. My disappointment in the article came when I read, “In the past couple of weeks, we’ve received reports that people on the opposite side of the proposed $92 million school bond issue have threatened the livelihoods of people who have publicly supported the measure… We interpret these as signs, among others, that there isn’t sufficient community buy-in to embark upon a project of this scope.”

I interpret these signs as outrageous forms of bullying, and I am disappointed that a.) individuals in our community are demonstrating opposition in this manner and b.) our newspaper’s editorial board justified this behavior by choosing to withhold support due to controversy and intimidation. As voters, we need to cast our vote based on facts.

3A and 3B are not simply about building a high school. While the plan does create a new high school, it increases capacity by moving the overcrowded middle school to the high school, converts the middle school into a third elementary and addresses capital improvements throughout. Every principal from every school, as well as most teachers, are in favor. They know the needs of the schools and recognize the domino effect that the passage of 3A and 3B will have on every student at every level in our school district.

My support of 3A and 3B is based on the facts, and I will proudly invest in the future of Steamboat Springs schools.

Gillian Morris
Parent, 17-year resident, residential and commercial property owner Steamboat Springs

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