School bond and tax elections in Colorado

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School bond and tax elections in Colorado are held under two different circumstances:
  1. The Taxpayer Bill of Rights from 1992, which became Section 20 of Article 10 of the Colorado Constitution.
  2. Local measures mandated by the School Finance Act of 1994.

Laws affecting school finance

Colorado TABOR law

Under TABOR, local voter approval is required if the school district wants to exceed its tax levy above the normal rate of inflation set by the consumer price index.

Under TABOR, the limit is calculated by taking in the maximum annual change of percent in state fiscal year spending which equals inflation plus the change of percent of state population in the previous year.[1] Population is determined by annual federal census estimates and estimates are adjusted every decade to match the federal census (1990, 2000, 2010, etc.).[1] If there is excess revenue, it shall be returned to the taxpayers unless the taxpayers approve a revenue change that is considered an offset to the budget not to increase debt.[2] Under TABOR, no new property taxes can be levied.[3]

School Finance Act of 1994

Under the School Finance Act of 1994, voter approval is required when a school district wants to exceed the limit for raising its Total Program Budget.[4] [5] The Total Program Budget is the funding base for a school district in Colorado.[6] Under this act, a school district that wants to exceed the previous year's Total Program Budget by more than 125% must put the plan before the voters. This type of ballot measure has rarely been used; it is considered to be a last resort option.

The total program funding must be calculated as noted below, using the 2009-2010 school year as an example:

1. [District per pupil funding x (District-funded pupil count - District on-line pupil enrollment - District ASCENT program pupil enrollment)] + District At-risk funding + District on-line funding + District ASCENT program funding. [7]

OR

2. [Minimum per pupil funding x (District funded pupil count - District on-line pupil enrollment - District ASCENT program pupil enrollment)] + District on-line funding + District ASCENT program funding.[7]

Whichever is the greater of the two must be used in determining total program funding.[7]

The funding base per-pupil for the 2009-2010 school year is $5,507.68, which is an amount equal to the normal base $5,250.41, adding $257.27 to account for inflation plus an additional percentage point.[8]

The following are the funding sources:

  • ASCENT Funding-This is funding that is used by school districts who put students in the ASCENT Program. The program covers students who are currently enrolled in a K-12 school and a higher education institution.[9] [10]
  • At-Risk Funding-This is funding for Colorado School Districts that include the number of district pupils whose dominant language is not English. This is added along with the greater of the number of students eligible for free lunch or the number of students calculated by the district percentage of pupils eligible for free lunch times District pupil enrollment.[11]
  • Funded pupil count-This count includes the certified pupil enrollment in the district and on-line pupil enrollment of each operating institute charter school for which the district is the accounting district.[12]

Conduct of bond election, rules, limitations

Authority conducting elections

The respective county clerk and recorder are responsible for conducting elections at the local level.[13]

Election dates

Colorado law imposes limits on when school districts can hold special elections.

  • In even-numbered years, school districts can only hold special elections on pre-established general and primary election days in May and November.
  • In odd-numbered years, special school district elections can only occur on the first Tuesday in November.

School districts that want to exceed their TABOR limit can sometimes combine their request with a municipal TABOR request.[14] [15]

Needed majority

A simple majority is required for any election under the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights.[16] or the School Finance Act of 1994[4][5]

Special elections

Colorado law prohibits school districts from placing special elections on the ballot.[14] [15]

Wording of measures

Under Colorado Law, all ballot questions must have one subject not to confuse voters.[17] All ballot questions must be clearly written stating the true intent of the ballot measure, then the question must end in Yes or No.[18]

Also, when public notice is sent to the voters, the impact of voting yes or no must be explained. [19]

Required notice of bond election

A minimum of 45 days before the election, TABOR rules state that the school districts must approve a resolution through a public hearing and also must submit to the State of Colorado two 500 word summaries of who was for and against a TABOR ballot measure. The TABOR rule applies to laws also under the School Finance Act of 1994. [20]

See also

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References

  1. 1.0 1.1 Michie "Colorado Constitution"(Referenced Section Article X, Section 20, Sub-Section 7(a))
  2. Michie "Colorado Constitution"(Referenced Section Article X, Section 20, Sub-Section 7d)
  3. Michie "Colorado Constitution"(Referenced Section Article X, Section 20, Sub-Section 8a)
  4. 4.0 4.1 Michie's "Colorado Revised Statutes"(Referenced Section 22-54-107.5(1), Colorado Statutes)
  5. 5.0 5.1 Michie's "Colorado Revised Statutes"(Referenced Section 22-54-108(1), Colorado Statutes)
  6. Michie's "Colorado Revised Statutes"(Referenced Section 22-54-103(6), Colorado Statutes)
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Michie "Colorado Revised Statutes(Referenced Statute 22-54-104(2) (IX) (A and B))
  8. Michie "Colorado Revised Statutes(Referenced Statute 22-54-104(5)(A)(XVI), Colorado Revised Statutes)
  9. 'Michie "Colorado Revised Statutes(Referenced Statute 22-35-108(b), Colorado Revised Statutes)
  10. 'Michie "Colorado Revised Statutes(Referenced Statute 22-54-103(1.4), Colorado Revised Statutes)
  11. 'Michie "Colorado Revised Statutes(Referenced Statute 22-54-103(1.5)(V) (A)-(B), Colorado Revised Statutes)
  12. 'Michie "Colorado Revised Statutes(Referenced Statute 22-54-103(7)(d)(II), Colorado Revised Statutes)
  13. Michie "Colorado Revised Statutes"(Referenced Statute 1-1-110(3), Colorado Revised Statutes)
  14. 14.0 14.1 Michie "Colorado Revised Statutes"(Referenced Statute 1-41-103(3)(b))
  15. 15.0 15.1 Michie "Colorado Constitution"(Referenced Section Article X, Section 20, Subsection 3A)
  16. Michie "Colorado Constitution"(Referenced Section Article X, Section 20, Colorado Constitution)
  17. Michie "Colorado Revised Statutes"(Referenced Statute 1-40-106.5)
  18. Michie "Colorado Revised Statutes"(Referenced Statute 1-40-106(3)(b))
  19. Michie "Colorado Revised Statutes"(Colorado Statutes 1.40-126)
  20. Michie "Colorado Constitution"(Article X, Section 20, Sub sect V, Colorado Constitution)