At its August 29 meeting in Leadville, the Colorado Mountain College Board of Trustees passed a resolution to put a ballot issue before the voters of the district in November 2018.

If passed, this ballot issue will authorize the trustees to maintain college services in the future by adjusting the CMC mill levy if needed in response to statewide revenue reductions caused by the Gallagher Amendment to the state constitution. Trustees would have the ability to adjust the mill levy only when there are future Gallagher Amendment reductions, and the mill levy increase would be limited in amount to any such reductions.

As a result of recent dramatic growth on the Front Range, the college and other rural districts that rely on property taxes have experienced significant reductions in revenues. Analysts at the legislature forecast that, should population and housing growth in Colorado’s Front Range continue, additional reductions to the statewide residential assessment rate are nearly certain.

In 2017, CMC’s revenues were reduced by $2.8 million, compared to what was projected before the Gallagher effect was triggered. The college managed the unexpected $2.8 million drop in projected revenues by making changes to new employee benefits, implementing other operating reductions and increasing tuition. Trustees heard that if the assessment rate drops again in 2019 — which it will do absent any legislative or statewide remedies — CMC expects to experience an additional reduction of $3.8 million. This amount is equal to the entire operating budget of one of the college’s campuses.

“With this ballot measure, the college simply seeks to protect and preserve its current level of funding in order to continue providing affordable education in areas such as firefighter, law enforcement and first responder training; nursing and health care training; and teacher training for rural schools, among others,” CMC Board President Patty Theobald said.

Other items of discussion

The trustees heard a presentation from representatives of the Salida School District, following that school board’s unanimous vote Aug. 14 to start the process of being annexed into the CMC taxing district. Following the presentation at the CMC meeting Aug. 29, trustees directed management to conduct a feasibility study on the annexation of the Salida School District, the next step in a lengthy process outlined in the board’s annexation procedures. Ultimately, the decision of whether a new school district can be annexed into the college’s taxing boundaries is up to the voters in the candidate district and those in the existing CMC district.

Also at the meeting, representatives of the Colorado Army National Guard talked with trustees about a potential partnership that would provide high-altitude training at the college’s Leadville campus.

The college and the Colorado Department of Military and Veterans Affairs are exploring options for an allocation of CMC land to support the creation of a mountain infantry training center for the Colorado Army National Guard’s 1st Battalion, 157th Infantry Regiment, an associated unit of the legendary U.S. Army’s 10th Mountain Division, which was based at Camp Hale near Leadville during World War II. After the war, many of the 10th Mountain’s soldiers returned to Colorado and, as veterans, put their mountain experience and skills to work to lay the foundations of the state’s now-flourishing ski industry.

CMC management is pursuing additional information so that the trustees can decide on next steps.  The potential for cooperative use of the new facilities and the opportunity to collaborate on training programs are among the key considerations stated by the CMC trustees during the meeting.

Other actions, direction

The board of trustees voted to appoint Chris Romer to fill the CMC trustee position for District 7, in Eagle County. Romer is the president and CEO of Vail Valley Partnership, the regional chamber of commerce representing Eagle County. He has served on the college’s strategic plan committee. He has extensive experience as a volunteer and member of various boards, and was on the search committees to hire both the campus dean at the Vail Valley at Edwards campus and the college president.

The trustee in that seat, Doris Dewton, officially tendered her resignation in writing in the meeting, which was accepted by the board. Her verbal resignation earlier this summer required trustees to appoint a replacement to serve until the next CMC election in 2019.

At the meeting trustees also:

  • Supported grant applications to the Garfield Federal Mineral Lease District and the Colorado Division of Parks & Wildlife
  • Approved a contract for the installation of security window film at CMC campuses
  • Approved a modernization contract for elevator maintenance and improvements
  • Approved a lease agreement for the Colorado Workforce Center, for space at the Leadville campus
  • Approved an institutional debt procedure to support a policy the board previously approved, Policy 7.14 for Institutional Debt
  • Directed staff to pursue negotiating an agreement with Verizon for an in-building antenna system to improve cellular coverage at the Spring Valley campus.