Cost of getting bond issue on ballot cost District 51 $33K more than budgeted

A quest for money ended up costing School District 51 more than expected.

The school district underestimated the cost of the 2008 election in which the district sought a $185 million bond measure. As a result, the fund that includes election costs was $32,881 over budget by the end of April. The district budget cycle continues through May and June.

The district spent $143,120.48 getting two questions on the November ballot. The district budgeted for the election a year in advance and based the estimate on the number of registered voters living within District 51 boundaries.

An increase in voter registration contributed to the cost increase, school district spokesman Jeff Kirtland said. Kirtland said the district will look to other funds and reserves to cover its election costs.

“Historically, the cost of an election has always been more than we’ve estimated,” Kirtland said.

The city of Grand Junction had the opposite experience when its election bill arrived in
February. The city expected to pay $137,000 for putting the public-safety initiative on the 2008 ballot, but instead had to pay only $59,032.

City spokeswoman Sam Rainguet said the city may have fared better than the school district because the city’s ballot questions took up less room on the ballot.

Melissa Callahan DeVita, District 51’s executive director for support services, said the difference may have more to do with the school-bond issue reaching nearly all Mesa County voters, while the public-safety initiative was an option for Grand Junction voters only.

Election prices include advertising and public-notice costs, but the bulk of the payment goes to Mesa County. The county charges a sum based on postage, printing, assembling ballot packages, travel costs, staff overtime for election purposes, labels, forms and other election-specific costs.

According to Mesa County’s chief deputy clerk, Amy Storm, the county charged a slew of entities a total of $394,059.49 for the 2008 general election. That includes rounded charges of $141,000 for District 51, $58,000 for the city of Grand Junction, $27,000 for the Clifton Fire District, $12,000 for the city of Fruita, $5,350 for Fruitvale Water and Sewer, $3,000 for the Panorama Public Improvement District, $227 for the Battlement Mesa Conservancy District and $5 for School District 50JT (just three Mesa County voters live in the district’s boundaries).

Callahan DeVita does not expect the 2009 school board election to tip the district scales.

“The fall election should be a mail-in only election,” she said.

“So that should cost less,” Superintendent Tim Mills added.


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