RANGELY I In the coming November election Rangely voters will be deciding the future level of school funding for the Rangely School District. In August the school board, at the request of Superintendent Matt Scoggins, voted 4-1 to push a mill levy override ballot initiative.
A mill levy override specifically taxes assessed value on property, thus if the override is approved by voters they can expect to see their annual property taxes increase. According to Scoggins the district is seeking a $430,000 increase. For a home valued at $200,000 this would equate to an annual tax increase of $15.34. A commercial property valued at the same $200,000 would pay an additional $55.87.
Scoggins acknowledges that times are not easy right now, however he hopes people will see the value of increasing school funding. “The economy is down but you reinvest, you don’t walk away from it,” he said.
If passed, Scoggins has four specific goals for funds from the increase. The first is to retain and attract quality staff, likely done through wage increases. He would also like to provide quality texts and technology for students, maintain current class sizes and ensure a safe learning environment for students.
One reason Scoggins cites as a need for the mill levy increase is the continued lack of state funding. “This current year we were shorted over a half of a million in funding and this is our only opportunity to add significant funding for general operating expenses to the district,” he said. Since 2010 the state has shorted the district $3,204,504 through the negative factor, which Scoggins calls a “creative loophole which allowed the state to cut education funding.”
Voters may remember that they passed a bond for the schools in 2009, however Scoggins wants them to know that a bond is significantly different than a mill levy. “Bonds and capital funds provide money for major repairs and renovations to existing school buildings, additions to schools and new school buildings. They cannot be used for operating costs. However, monies from a mill levy are used for operating expenses such as teacher pay, rigorous instructional programs, in-classroom technology and other high-priority operating expenses,” he said.
Another difference between a bond and mill levy is that the mill levy will not sunset, or end at any time. However, the school board can reduce it at any time.
Voters can expect to hear more about the mill levy in the coming months as both Scoggins and the school district gear up to educate citizens about school funding issues and ask for a ‘yes’ vote on the mill levy.