On Tuesday, Montezuma County voters denied a new tax increase for Cortez schools, chose new school board members for Dolores and Mancos districts, and denied a measure intended to stabilize the budget for the Cortez Fire Protection District.
On Ballot Question 4A, voters rejected a request to increase property taxes by 5 mills in part to raise teacher salaries. The measure failed, with 2,857 voting against it and 2,250 voting for it, or 55.94% to 44.05%. Re-1 had hoped to recruit and retain good teachers with better pay with the tax increase.
All results were still unofficial Tuesday night.
“The voters sent us a message, we will revisit the budget,” said Re-1 superintendent Lori Haukeness.
On Ballot Question 6A, voters also rejected a request by the Cortez Fire Protection District to offset losses from changes in the percentage of actual assessed property. The measure failed, with 2,391 voting against it and 1,789 voting for it, or 57.20% to 42,79%.
“It’s disappointing, we thought we got the message across how important this was for the district to maintain the services we offer,” said Cortez Fire Protection District Chief Jay Balfour.
He said because of a downward shift in assessed valuations, and as a result of the failed ballot question, the fire district now faces a $90,000 reduction in its annual budget.
Balfour said the fire district is vulnerable to the destructive impacts of the Gallagher Amendment, which pegs residential mill levies to the statewide ratio of residential and commercial values. That ratio is driven by Front Range cities and can force residential mill levies down, hurting small district budgets.
In other results:
For Mancos Re-6 and Dolores Re-4 school board elections, voters elected new board members and incumbents.
In Mancos, eight candidates ran for three seats. Voters elected Pamela A. Coppinger with 655 votes (20.29%), Timothy J. Hunter with 559 votes (17.31%), and Katie Cahill-Volpe with 471 votes (14.59%).
In Dolores, six candidates ran for three seats. Voters elected Clay Tallmadge with 814 votes (22.25%), Maegan E. Crowley with 702 votes (19.19%) and Lenetta Shull with 624 votes (17.05%).
Montezuma County also cast votes for two state questions on the ballot.
Proposition CC failed statewide. Montezuma County also voted it down 5,001 votes to 3,355, or 59.84% to 37.46%.
Proposition CC asked voters to allow the state to keep all the tax revenue it collects after June 2019 that the state’s Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights would otherwise send back to residents as refunds.
The results of Proposition DD are too close to call. Montezuma County voters were against the measure, 5,204 to 3,118, or 62.53% to 37.47%.
Proposition DD asks voters for state taxes to be increased by $29 million annually to fund state water projects and to pay for the regulation of sports betting through licensed casinos by authorizing a tax on sports betting.
Voter participation jumped on Election Day. Overall voter participation was 49 percent.
About 17,000 ballots were mailed out for the election, said Montezuma County Clerk Kim Percell, and 8,578 were returned. Voter participation was 49 percent.
By 6 p.m. on Election Day, 8,381 ballots had been returned, up from 5,757 that had been returned by Monday.
“Turnout has been steady all day,” Percell said.
Sixteen staff members were working the election in the clerk’s office, including six election judges.
The day was going well, Percell said.
“We get more organized every election year,” she said.