School board adds 10-year sunset provision to plan for mill-levy override

The School District 51 Board of Education voted unanimously on Tuesday to add a 10-year sunset provision onto a proposed mill levy override, in what was described as an effort to bolster community trust and support.

In November, Mesa County voters will be asked to approve a $118.5 million bond measure and a $6.5 million mill levy override.

If approved, funds from the mill levy override would go toward five additional days of classroom instruction for all students, updated curriculum, technology support and school repairs.

The Tuesday decision means that if voters approve the mill levy override in November, the school district will receive an additional $6.5 million in funding every year for 10 years. Then voters must approve the override again.

School board member Greg Mikolai said he supported the sunset in order to build trust and accountability between the school district and the community.

“It isn’t the most palatable direction to go, but I recognize the political necessity of it in this community,” Mikolai said.

Board President John Williams said difficult discussions have taken place between board members over whether to vote on a sunset for the mill levy override funding.

“There’s at least a perception in this community that we’re not accountable for the money that the board is entrusted to spend,” Williams said. “I think we can prove to this community in a very short amount of time that we can be trusted with their money.”

Board Vice President Tom Parrish said he has heard from both supporters and opponents of the idea of adding a sunset to the mill levy funding.

“This was a tough decision for us to get to as a board. I think we’re taking a lead from the community that they want to see that level of accountability and they want to see us establish that trust,” he said.

Board member Paul Pitton also expressed doubts about adding an end date to the funding.

“My only concern would be is, what kind of financial crisis would hit if we didn’t pass it in 10 years, which would be passed on to a new board, but I’ve heard some very valid reasons as to why we should (sunset),” Pitton said.

School board member Doug Levinson was not present at the Tuesday meeting.


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