By Megan Tackett
Sopris Sun Staff
Ballot Issue 4B, which would have authorized the Colorado Mountain College Board of Trustees to increase its mill levy to offset revenue losses in the event of a Gallagher-mandated tax assessment rate decrease, has apparently failed. The preliminary results, which totaled at 32,334 votes, show a 47 to 53 percent defeat for the measure.
“[I’m] certainly disappointed,” CMC President Carrie Hauser said of the election results. “Gallagher is a very complicated issue. It’s hard to articulate.” And because of fair election laws, CMC staff had to be careful about the language they used when discussing the measure. “We were limited in our ability to sort of advocate for this because of fair election laws,” she said.
Despite the loss, Hauser remains inspired and grateful for the opportunity to put an unprecedented measure on the ballot.
“We did feel incredible support from our communities. We certainly felt that going into this,” she said. “I’m really proud of the trustees. It was really courageous of them to sort of lead on this and hopefully bring some awareness [about the impacts of the Gallagher Amendment] to our communities.”
The Glenwood Chamber of Commerce acted as a strong advocate for the initiative, too, she said.
“In a short timeframe, [they] raised money and tried to raise awareness and did what they were able to do. We were born out of the Chamber, and they rallied. It was a great thing to see and we’re truly grateful to the leadership they provided,” Hauser said.
Last year, a Gallagher-induced assessment rate deduction for Colorado’s residential properties led to a more-than $2.7 million loss for CMC’s budget, which receives 70 percent of its revenue from property taxes. “We’ll never make that back,” Hauser noted. The assessment rate is projected to drop further next year, to 6.2 percent from the current 7.2 percent.
“We’ll certainly learn from this. We’ll sort of regroup. My job as president is to be responsible for the fiscal health of the college, so we’ll go back and get creative internally as an institution.”
Portscheller defeats Winkler
Peg Portscheller has unofficially won the contested District 3 Board of Trustees Director position, which represents western Garfield County, against Randy Winkler in a 59-41 percent victory.
“I am pleased to have been supported by voters across the CMC region,” Portscheller said in an email. “Hats off to Randy Winkler for his interest and great showing in the election. As I mentioned to Dr. Hauser, it was a win/win for CMC regardless of the outcome. My hope is to contribute to a positive future to CMC as they embark upon their second 50 years of service to students and communities across central Colorado!”
Portscheller, a Parachute resident, has a more-than 40-year career in education. Both a former teacher and superintendent, she now runs her own education consulting firm.
“CMC is a driver of economic development in our communities; it is my fond hope that the CMC Board, its staff, its students and the communities in which CMC has a presence will continue to think about how to imagine a viable, vibrant future for all of us who choose to live in this special place,” she said.