VOTE 2020: Cherry Creek schools and Adams County win new tax hikes

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VOTE 2020: Aurora, Adams County, Cherry Creek schools ballot questions

Local Ballot Questions Arapahoe CountyAdams CountyTotal
Cherry Creek 4A-Mill LevyYes98798na98798
Cherry Creek 4A-Mill LevyNo56469na56469
Cherry Creek 4B-Bond IssueYes107878na107878
Cherry Creek 4B-Bond IssueNo45940na45940
Adams County 1AYesna168128168128
Adams County 1ANona3502235022

AURORA | Aurora area voters appear to be in a giving mood, judging by their apparent support of two local tax increase issues, one benefiting schools the other open space.

Two measures to give extra funding to the Cherry Creek School District to offset budget cuts due to the COVID-19 pandemic are leading as of Tuesday evening.

Yes on 4A and 4B are both ahead, with Yes of 4A at 63.58% of the vote and Yes of 4B at 70.08% as of 10 p.m. with 77% of votes counted. By Wednesday, both measures were handily passing.

Measure 4A, a mill levy override, would increase operating revenue by $35 million and bond measure 4B would raise $150 million to fund deferred maintenance and district projects.

The district’s funding was cut by $25 million for the 2020-2021 school year, and the state is projecting a $35 million cut next school year based on decreased tax collection revenue from COVID-19.

With both measures poised to go through, Superintendent Scott Siegfried says a lot of strain will be taken off the district budget.

“It allows us to plan for the future of our kids,” he said. “We have a great opportunity to not feel the full impact of the state’s budget cuts on us.”

The 4A budget election would raise $35 million for the district to offset those cuts, and would be distributed proportionately to every school in the district.

The money from measure 4B would go towards $150 million in construction and deferred maintenance identified by a task force. The list includes renovations to Village East Elementary School, increased maintenance on aging schools, expanding the Cherry Creek Innovation Campus and safety and security upgrades, such as putting deadbolts on classroom doors in every school.

The money would also go toward the creation of a $7 million mental health day treatment center and a possible new elementary school on the east side of the district.

The measure would cost homeowners $1.65 a month in new taxes per $100,000 of property value. Proponents say the net property tax increase is relatively low for the size of the package because the district would also be retiring older debt.

“I’m thankful for the ability we will now have to build forward out of covid as opposed to having to slash budgets and reduce people in this time,” Siegfried said. “I’m very thankful that we’re able to think positively after tonight.”

The district had already been putting together plans for the new elementary school contingent on the measure passing, and has formed a steering committee for the creation of the mental health day treatment center.

Siegfried and school board president Karen Fisher said that they appreciated the investment in education Gov. Jared Polis outlined in his budget proposal released Monday, but are concerned about where the funding will come from.

“I don’t think the money’s there quite yet,” Fisher said.

Voters in Adams County have agreed to continue paying a pair of sales taxes to benefit local open spaces and roads, according to early election results. 

More than three quarters of Adams County voters said they supported ballot issues 1A and 1B, which asked residents to continue paying a current open space sales tax of .0025% on every dollar spent and a current tales tax for roads of .005%.

Both measures have been in place for nearly 20 years, according to Adams County officials. If voters had rejected this year’s measures, the taxes would have sunset at the end of the decade.

The Adams County Board of Commissioners unanimously agreed to send the questions to voters in early September. 

Monies generated by the open space tax are specifically dog-eared to preserve land that protects water quality, protect wildlife areas and wetlands, preserve farmland and carve out open space amid urban expansion. 

For the infrastructure tax, 40% of the funds go to road and bridge projects in the county, and 60% go to maintaining, operating and expanding county current county facilities.

About 60% of voters also signed off on another countywide ballot question that axes term limits for the county coroner. The current coroner, Democrat Monica Broncucia-Jordan, has been in her post for nine years. She’s up for re-election again in 2022.