Dear Editor:

A Sept. 6, 2019, article in The Mountain Mail titled “Colorado Mountain College says mill levy not a new tax” states that since the CMC School District already exists elsewhere, the mill levy will not be a “new tax.”

Under this interpretation of the Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR), “the amount of the tax does not need to be part of the question” on the Nov. 5 ballot.

The person quoted in the article is Carrie Besnette, president and CEO of CMC. Maybe I was asleep at the switch. I was under the impression that the members of Salida School Board R-32-J placed this issued on the ballot.

Why is the defense of the wording not coming from them? If this initiative is coming from CMC, why didn’t they have to petition signatures to place it on the ballot? Who is in charge of this initiative?

Apparently neither R-32-J or CMC has lawyers telling them their ballot wording does not violate TABOR.

I believe any time the government forces me to pay a new tax that it is indeed a “new tax.” This annexation into the CMC district will raise residential property taxes by over 8 percent — just to start!

They know a regular citizen such as myself has no ability to challenge their legal opinion.

Let’s see if they can challenge my common-sense opinion: Even if TABOR does not force you to place in the ballot language how much this initiative will cost the taxpayer, TABOR also does not prevent you from including this language.

What is the downside of doing the ethical thing? Make a full disclosure on the ballot of what this initiative will cost: grant the voter greater knowledge and understanding of the issue.

Here is the Nov. 5 ballot wording:

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

All carrot, no stick.

Despite what I hope will be widespread public discussion, for many voters the only information they will have about this initiative is what they see when they vote. Read in isolation, without knowledge of the costs, many will reflexively vote “yes.”

This is a public relations campaign cleverly disguised as ballot language and is knowingly intended to sway the uniformed to default to a yes vote. This maneuver could easily sway the outcome of what is likely to be a close election.

Our school board approved wording in the ballot initiative that leaves out pertinent information. Based solely on the tactic being employed, this initiative deserves to fail. Does our school board do the public justice by presenting only the pros while omitting the cons? I hope it isn’t a trend.

Vic Veltri

Salida