District 51 School Board picks budget committee

District 51 School Board members Tuesday selected 19 members of budget development committee that will offer the board advice on budget cuts and savings.

The board selected 15 community members to serve on the committee. Superintendent Steve Schultz said there were more than 80 applicants for the committee.

“We were very pleased with the response from the community,” Schultz said.

Board members selected names one at a time, with each board member picking three names from a list of applicants. Board member Harry Butler selected Bernie Anderson, David Combs and Joseph Skinner for the committee; board member Jeff Leany selected Martin Chazen, Jack Gray and Judy Mathews; and Board President Greg Mikolai picked Tracy Garcher, Jose Luis Chavez and Margaret French.

Board Vice President Leslie Kiesler picked Cindy Enos-Martinez, Steve Fitzegerald and Will Hayes for the committee. Board member Ann Tisue selected Barbara Ann Smith, George Rau and Janet Abbott.

The remaining four members were suggested by the district to represent specific groups. Diane Raine works for the district, Sheryl Huffaker is on the District Accountability Committee and Darren Cook and Kate Jackson will represent teacher and school classified staff representation groups, respectively.

The board also adopted a charter that establishes rules and direction for the committee, with a provision to amend it with new language at the board’s next meeting Jan. 10. Tisue had expressed concern that the charter language doesn’t encourage enough brainstorming and is too strict about setting all agenda items before meetings. The committee’s first meeting is scheduled for Jan. 12.

The board approved mill levy rates for 2012 property taxes. The district is required to set mill levy rates by Dec. 15 each year so Mesa County will know how to calculate property taxes.

The district sets its mill rate for paying off bonds, while the state sets mill rates for property tax revenue the district will collect for its general fund and to pay for its mill levy override measures. The general fund mill rate remained frozen for 2011-12 as part of a mill levy freeze. The override and bond redemption mills, which are allowed to fluctuate, will increase.

The state and the district increased override and bond mills for 2012 taxes so the district could continue to collect the same amount to pay for override and bond measures voters approved in 1996 and 2004. The mills had to be increased to keep that funding level stable because the assessed value of all property in Mesa County decreased from $2.082 billion last year to $1.737 billion this year.

Property owners will still pay less with the changes because of the property values decrease this year and because the general fund mill rate is the largest of the group. This spring, the county collected $69,866,323 from property owners in District 51. The district expects to collect $60,513,272 from local property owners next spring.


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