Exactly five people showed up at the Montezuma County Clerk's office to hear firsthand the results of the election. And it was a bit of a nail-biter.
As unofficial numbers came in at 8:45 p.m., the mill levy increase question for the Cortez Fire District was showing 1,848 for and 1,792 against, but 255 ballots (110 for, 145 against) for absentee property owners had not yet been added to the totals.
As the small crowd tried unsuccessfully to crunch the numbers in their heads, Montezuma County clerk Carol Tullis swiftly punched the additional ballots into a calculator and announced: "It passed, by 21 votes."
Voters approved a deBrucing measure for the Montezuma County Hospital District, allowing the district to apply for grants that will put total revenues over a 5.5 percent cap set by the Taxpayers Bill of Rights. It will not increase taxes.
Voters decided on two contested school board elections. Linnea Vass and Rick Carpenter both won two open seats on the Dolores School board, and Sherri Wright earned the one open seat on the Cortez School board, winning over Bob Wagoner.
The Lewis-Arriola Fire Protection District split the difference for their two ballot questions. Question 5B, to increase the mill levy, failed, but question 5C to deBruce was approved by voters.
In Montezuma County 7,168 ballots were cast, representing a 44.67 percent voter turnout.
"It was a smooth election, thanks to an awesome staff and excellent crew of election judges," said county clerk Tullis. "We had a flood of last-minute ballots, 1,100 on the last day."
SUMMARY OF ELECTION
REFERENDUM 5A CORTEZ FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICT WINS: Voters narrowly approved a 2.5 percent mill levy increase for the district, by a vote of 1,958 to 1,937, a 21 point margin in favor of the measure. The additional funding will be used for equipment upgrades, rescue vehicles and safety gear.
REFERENDUM 5D MONTEZUMA COUNTY HOSPITAL DISTRICT WINS: Voters approved the de-Brucing measure by a vote of 3,880 to 3,114. The approved measure will allow the hospital district to obtain additional grant money.
DOLORES SCHOOL BOARD ELECTION (two seats): Linnea Vass and Rick Carpenter were elected to three year terms. Vass garnered 526 votes, and Carpenter earned 378 votes.
CORTEZ SCHOOL BOARD ELECTION (one contested seat): Sherri Wright won over Bob Waggoner by a vote of 2,058 to 1,307.
MANCOS SCHOOL BOARD ELECTION: B. Boe Hawkins earned 623 votes. Blake Mitchell earned 553 votes.
REFERENDUM 5B LEWIS-ARRIOLA FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICT MILL LEVY LOSES: No: 466. Yes: 405.
REFERENDUM 5C LEWIS-ARRIOLA FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICT DEBRUCING WINS: Yes: 489. No: 383.
PROPOSITION AA WINS: Voters approved a 25 percent tax on newly legal recreational marijuana to fund school construction. Opponents argued the tax rate would benefit black market sales. It asks for a 10 percent sales tax, which the Legislature could lower or raise to 15 percent, and it asks for a 15 percent wholesale excise tax. The taxes would be on top of state and local sales taxes.
AMENDMENT 66 FAILS: A kindergarten-through-12th-grade school-finance overhaul would increase income taxes about $1 billion a year and revive a progressive income tax structure abandoned in the 1980s. Depending on how much you earn, it could have raised your income tax bill from 8 to 27 percent.
SECESSION: Voters in 11 largely rural counties were deciding on a mostly symbolic effort to form a 51st state called North Colorado because of what supporters call a disconnect with urban areas. The Legislature and Congress would have to approve the creation of a new state, something considered unlikely.
At 10 p.m., the secession movement was failing in six of 11 counties: Logan, Moffat, Elbert, Lincoln, Weld and Sedgwick counties. It was winning in Cheyenne, Kit Carson, Phillips, Washington and Yuma counties.