2017 Bond and Mill Levy Override Background

2017 Bond and Mill Levy Override Information
Posted on 11/15/2017
District 51 voters approved Measures 3A and 3B on Nov. 7, 2017. 

Measure 3A is a mill levy override that raises property taxes within D51 boundaries by $6.5 million annually for 10 years specifically for the following purposes:

• Adding 5 additional student contact days in the school calendar starting in 2018-19 
• Updating instructional materials and educator training
• Helping extend the life of building with funding for Priority 2 and 3 maintenance 
• Adding five jobs in technology support

Measure 3B is a bond measure that will repay $118.5 million in bonds and $26 million in premiums through property taxes collected specifically for the following purposes:

Priority 1 maintenance projects across D51 schools 
(Click here to see what's on the list at your school)
• Replacing Orchard Mesa Middle School (new building to open in 2019)
• Technology upgrades 
                    (Click here to see what's on the list of technology upgrades)
Installing the first ever gym at Dual Immersion Academy 
 Adding an auxiliary gym at Palisade High School 
Adding security features at schools across the district 

When will the projects/purchases funded by the 2017 bond and mill levy override happen?

Construction and maintenance projects funded by the bond measure will begin in 2018. Students will remain in Orchard Mesa Middle School, on the north side of the school property, while the new school is constructed on the south side of the school property. Students will move into the new building in 2019 - either during second semester of the 2018-19 school year or when school starts in 2019-20. 

The large volume of maintenance projects at all priority levels means not all projects can be done immediately. Projects will be spread over time, with those in highest priority being completed first. Construction start dates have not yet been selected for gym construction at Palisade High School and Dual Immersion Academy.

Additional calendar days will be introduced in 2018-19. A new 2018-19 calendar will be developed this winter and updated in early 2018. Technology upgrades will begin in the summer of 2018, which will allow Technology Department staff to set up and install new devices before students return to school. Curriculum and educator training purchases are currently being researched.

How much will the bond and override measures increase property taxes?
The median home in Mesa County, worth $200,000, will pay $9.42 per month for the mill levy override and bond measure combined.

What is the difference between a bond measure and a mill levy override?
Bond measures can only be used for construction, infrastructure, and maintenance projects specified for voters in a ballot question. A mill levy override can be used for broader purposes, but still only those listed in the ballot question. Both collect property tax revenue and must be approved by voters. 

How can districts use bond and mill levy override money?

Only for the exact purposes listed in the ballot question. The one exception would be when there is money left over, as was the case with the 2004 ballot measure (the most recent to pass in D51). In that case, the district used remaining bond measure dollars to build Chipeta Elementary. If the district has money left over from the 2017 bond measure, the School Board has directed staff to prioritize paying off construction debt for the new R-5 High School and Summit School Program building, which opened in 2016 using certificates of participation.

How was money from the last bond measure and mill levy override spent?

The bond measure of 2004 permitted the district to issue $109 million in bonds to build three new schools (Fruita 8/9 School, Pear Park Elementary, and Rim Rock Elementary), replace two existing schools (Bookcliff Middle School and the Career Center), renovate and expand 37 schools, and acquire property for future building sites. A fourth school – Chipeta Elementary – was built with savings from the other projects. The mill levy override of 2004 generates up to $4 million per year to fund staffing and operations at the three new schools.

How is District 51 funded?
Like all other Colorado school districts, District 51 receives most of its funding through the funding formula included in the School Finance Act. The formula takes a mixture of state taxes, mixes it with local property tax and vehicle registration tax revenue, and churns out a dollar amount for each district to receive per student based on enrollment, local cost of living, number of at-risk students, and other factors.  In 2017-18, the state funding formula gives District 51 $7,278.91 per student, after the removal of $909 per student for the Budget Stabilization, or Negative Factor. The Negative Factor siphons off a portion of the funding determined by the School Finance Act funding formula and sends that money to other parts of the state budget.

How does the district spend its money?
Budgets and other financial information are posted in the Financial Transparency section on the district's home page at d51schools.org. 

Can schools collect more property tax if property values increase?

No – an increase in the assessed value of a home or business does not change how much funding a school district receives. If a district collects more or less property tax revenue, the state will have to contribute less or more money to provide a district with the amount the state has already decided a district will get through the state funding formula for school districts. 

Can school districts raise sales taxes?

No. The state funding that school districts receive includes a mix of state sales tax, cigarettes tax, and other state tax revenue, but school districts can only seek tax increases for property tax.