Dolores school officials and their spouses waited out election results at the Montezuma County clerk's office Tuesday evening, but left with mixed feelings.
Amendment 66, which would have raised $1 billion for Colorado schools, and especially aid rural districts, did not pass statewide. It also failed locally, going down 4,427 against the tax increase to 2,576 in favor.
"It's disappointing, but we will have to continue on a line-item budget approach to keep things above water," said Dolores Schools Superintendent Scott Cooper.
Two board seats were filled. Incumbent Linnea Vass was the top vote getter, garnering 526 votes. Joye McHenry was also elected, earning 514 votes.
Vass, who owns the Dolores Food Market with her husband, has served on the board for two terms. She cited her experience and knowledge of the complicated education system and polices as reason she makes a good board member.
"I have learned so much during my six years as a school board member. I greatly appreciate this opportunity and wish to give back to the community I live in," she had stated.
McHenry, who works at the Cortez Recreation Center, said her immediate goal is to restore the relationship with the community.
"The board must take their constituents' feelings and desires into consideration when making any decision. They are a sounding board for the people. Occasionally that means putting their own opinions aside for the greater good, but understanding that all decisions must be based on clear fact, honesty and transparency," she said in an interview.
Five people showed up at the Montezuma County Clerk's office to hear the results of the election. It was a bit of a nail-biter.
As unofficial numbers came in at 8:45 p.m., the mill levy question for the Cortez Fire District showed 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 group tried to crunch the numbers in their heads, Montezuma County clerk Carol Tullis swiftly punched the numbers 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 Taxpayer's Bill of Rights. It will not increase taxes.
Sherri Wright earned a seat on the Cortez board, beating Bob Waggoner.
The Lewis-Arriola Fire Protection District split the difference for their ballot questions. Question 5B, to increase the mill levy, failed, but question 5C to de-Bruce was approved.
In Montezuma County, 7,168 ballots were cast, a 44.67 percent 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."
REFERENDUM 5A CORTEZ FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICT: Voters approved a 2.5 percent mill levy increase, 1,958 to 1,937, a 21-point margin. The funding will be used for equipment upgrades, rescue vehicles and safety gear.
REFERENDUM 5D MONTEZUMA COUNTY HOSPITAL DISTRICT: Voters approved the de-Brucing measure 3,880 to 3,114. The measure will allow the hospital district to obtain additional grant money.
DOLORES SCHOOL BOARD ELECTION (two seats): Linnea Vass and Joye McHenry were elected to three-year terms. Vass got 526 votes; McHenry 514.
CORTEZ SCHOOL BOARD ELECTION (one contested seat): Sherri Wright beat Bob Waggoner 2,058 to 1,307.
MANCOS SCHOOL BOARD ELECTION: B. Boe Hawkins earned 623 votes; Blake Mitchell , 553 votes.
REFERENDUM 5B LEWIS-ARRIOLA FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICT MILL LEVY: No: 466. Yes: 405.
REFERENDUM 5C LEWIS-ARRIOLA FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICT DE-BRUCING: Yes: 489. No: 383.