CONEJOS COUNTY — Centauri High School will rise anew, if early voting in Conejos and a small portion of Alamosa County is any indication. The 2019 election was by mail ballot with two county issues being decided and seats being allocated on the North Conejos Board of Education.
Ballot Issue 4A to increase taxes and increase debt on a referred measure with a general obligation bond to match financing for a new Centauri High School drew the approval of 767 Conejos County voters and 11 in Alamosa County, while 529 in Conejos County and 6 in Alamosa voting against the plan.
The school district overlaps Alamosa County on the north/south boundary.
The school district had an opportunity to access Build Excellent Schools Today (BEST) funds in a lease/purchase arrangement in which only 19 percent of funding for a new building is the responsibility of the voters.
County funds shot down
In contrast, voters soundly vetoed Ballot issue No. 1A, which would have increased county sales tax by 2.75 percent to support county operations.
No votes totaled 1,528, with 778 voting yes.
Voters were asked to approve or deny increase of Conejos County taxes by an estimated $1,095,985 in the first fiscal year, as well as by whatever additional amounts raised annually thereafter by the imposition of an additional countywide sales tax rate of 2.75 cents on each dollar spent in the county.
This tax would amount to only.0275 cents on one dollar or $2.75 on $100 in retail sales in Conejos County. And the county would be able to tax all marijuana retail sales.
Burden of the tax would not have been solely on the citizens of the county, but also on hunters, campers and others traveling through the county and spending money there.
Residents are warned that without this sales tax, services may need to be cut, offices closed and other services might be eliminated completely.
North Conejos School District
Coordinated with the county, North Conejos sought to increase taxes and to increase debt on a referred measure, the general obligation bond for a BEST (Building Excellent Schools Today) match.
Centauri High School is aging and the district administration points out that it’s in need of replacement and this is the time to do so. School administration states that construction costs will certainly continue to rise and each year the current high school exists, the cost of replacement will increase.
It is pointed out that Centauri may not be the only school in the entire San Luis Valley to address its facility, but it may be in the worst condition.
It is suggested that only 19 percent of a new building is the financial responsibility of the voters. For the same money, the old building could not address the needs.
The facility can be replaced now with a grant. The future of BEST is not certain and the area will never be able to afford a facility without this assistance. The school district debt would be increased up to $5.92 million, with a repayment cost of up to $9.5 million, with district taxes being increased by up to $475,000 annually by the issuance and payment of a general obligation bond to the state to provide local matching money, together with $500,000 from the district’s reserves, required for the district to receive $24.2 million in awarded BEST grant funds, which are not required to be repaid, to finance the costs of replacing the existing Centauri High School facility to meet current health and safety standards by constructing an Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant, energy efficient and technologically up-to-date facility to meet the educational needs of the district’s students and serve the community, together with site improvements and the renovation, acquisition and construction of capital assets required or otherwise necessary in connection with the grant award, which general obligation bond shall bear interest, mature, be subject to redemption, with or without premium and be issued at such time and in such a manner and containing such terms, not inconsistent with the ballot issue, as the Board of Education may determine.
Ad valorem property taxed would be levied without limit as to the mill rate to generate an amount sufficient each year to pay the principal premium, if any, and interest on such debt and to fund any reserves with their payment.
Board of Education
In North Conejos School District Director District B, Charles E. Finnegan ran unopposed and was accorded 1,000 confidence votes
In District D, County Sheriff Garth Crowther ran unopposed and was given 1,031 votes.
District F saw a race between Tanner Bagwell and Steve Cordova, with Bagwell tallying 796 to Cordova’s 434.
There were no other school board races in the county.