Dear Editor:

On the November ballot, Salida School District citizens will vote on annexation by Colorado Mountain College:

“Shall the properties within the boundaries of Salida School District R-32-J be included in the boundaries of the Colorado Mountain College District, and in doing so expand the availability of low-cost college degrees and certificates; including education and life-long learning; tuition-free concurrent enrollment for high school students; and skilled trades and industry-specific training, on behalf of the residents of Salida School District Number R-32-J.”

What was left out: “And shall property taxes be increased by 3.997 mill levy ($27.84/year/$100,000 for residential and $115.91/year/$100,000 for commercial).”

Implication: Over 10 years, a commercial building valued at $500,000 will pay $5,800 in new property taxes. This tax will unquestionably make Salida even more unaffordable.

Salida school board member Cheri Post said (Mountain Mail Aug. 15) she didn’t think the ballot language was transparent enough and didn’t remind people a tax is involved. School Board President Jennifer Visitacion said the resolution was “not passed with the intention of not being fully transparent with our community.” CMC said it’s not a “new tax” since it exists elsewhere, so the tax burden language didn’t have to be included.

Since we are not now paying this tax, this is indeed a new tax to Salida. This incomplete ballot language might deceive a voter into believing there’s no cost to this proposal.

If you own a home/commercial property, your property taxes will go up. If you rent a home/commercial property your rent will go up; landlords will pass along these costs. Retailers will likely increase prices to cover their increased property tax costs.

This tax will continually rise with every assessment as real estate prices continue to rise. There is no “sunset” to this tax increase. If approved, it will be with us forever.

There’s no guarantee the taxes collected will stay in Salida. Being part of CMC’s district means our money could very well go to Aspen, Glenwood Springs, Leadville or any one of the 11 campuses. Who decides? The entrenched board of CMC, none of whom are from Salida.

A similar proposal was advanced by CMC in Buena Vista. The BV school board refused to place this on the ballot while their constituents are paying for two bond issues: the new BV high school and middle school; just like Salida – we are still paying for SHS and SMS.

Why wasn’t our school board open, honest and transparent about the tax increase we’ll all pay forever? There are so many online, cost-effective options for college, especially for a two-year degree. Our high school students are already taking online college courses. Are we solving a nonexistent problem?

Perhaps David Blackburn, who won’t pay this new tax since he lives in the BV School District, will clarify why the Salida school board is intentionally trying to deceive the voter.

If you don’t understand the full implications of this ballot language, please vote no on CMC annexation.

Melanie Cymansky,

Salida