KUSA — Tuesday night in Douglas County, the school board voted to try something that has not worked since 2006: asking voters for a property tax increase in exchange for more school funding.
"A lot of the infrastructure is now starting to age," said Dr. Rob Preuhs, a political science professor at the Metropolitan State University of Denver.
The district will ask voters for a $250 million bond issue to repair and replace buildings. It will also propose a $40 million mill levy override to pump money into the operating budget. If passed, property taxes would increase about $208 for someone who owns a home worth $470,000.
Preuhs said he's not surprised at this move considering that the school district has a new superintendent and a recently-changed school board.
"My guess is that the school board is trying to capitalize on that shift and see if they can promote some more school funding and take advantage of what might be a blue wave here in Colorado," Preuhs said.
But, can this 'blue wave' of Democratic momentum sway voters in a district that turned down similar proposals in 2008 and 2011?
"JeffCo's bond initiative didn't pass two years ago," Preuhs said.
In neighboring Jefferson County, the school board will address its own issues on Thursday night by considering the placement of a $567 million bond issue and $33 million mill levy override on the November ballot. If passed, the owner of a $470,000 home would see a $221 increase in property taxes for the year.
Historically, voters have gone back and forth on passing these types of ballot questions. Dating back to 1998, the district has proposed mill levy overrides six times. Three attempts have passed and three have failed.
"You have a population of folks who are original residents, moved in the 1970s and 1980s," Preuhs said. "Their children are gone and they see a property tax increase a bit more removed in terms of benefits."
To top it all off, voters statewide will be considering Amendment 73 which is asking for a statewide increase in school funding of $1.6 billion by raising taxes for people who make more than $150,000 per year and for corporations.
Preuhs said he believes this may split voters and cause a negative impact for either the statewide effort or local ballot questions.
"I do think that the statewide ballot initiative is going to have an effect. Schools don't want to be seen as taking too big a grab in a particular election," Preuhs said. "Voters, maybe not overwhelmingly all of those voters, but some voters are going to check off one and check off the opposite way on the other side."