A $42 million mill levy override for Colorado Springs School District 11 has one more group backing it.
The Colorado Springs City Council on Tuesday approved a resolution in support of the measure, which appears on El Paso County's Nov. 7 ballot as Issue 3E.
The issue would cost homeowners about $3.75 a month per $100,000 of property value and would pay for school maintenance, higher salaries and more employees, among other things. Councilman Bill Murray said he was proud to lead the supporting charge.
Issue 3E should be a considered an investment in the city's central school district, Murray said, and would help ensure the city's students are well-prepared and "taught by the best and brightest educators."
Councilwoman Yolanda Avila "wholeheartedly" chimed in with her support. D-11 is the city's most diverse district, where students of color are "often getting the last and worst of what's offered," she said.
Opponents of 3E, such as anti-tax activist Douglas Bruce, have called the issue a "blank check" for the district.
But Councilman Tom Strand, a former D-11 school board member, argues that the mill levy override is a far cry from a blank check. The district takes measures above and beyond what is required to ensure accountability in its spending, he said.
D-11 voters last approved a property tax increase in November 2000, the year many incoming high school seniors were born, campaign leaders point out.
The money would enable the district to reduce class size, upgrade safety and security, repair and renovate schools, increase pay for teachers and support staff, and add counselors, nurses and social workers.
Councilmen Don Knight and Andy Pico voted against the resolution in support of 3E. Pico said it was inappropriate for the council to weigh in on other political issues.
Also Tuesday, the council unanimously approved rate cuts for Colorado Springs Utilities customers. The lower rates begin Nov. 1 and will reduce the typical residences' electric bills by 1.1 percent and gas bills by 4.8 percent. Typical commercial properties will see a 1.6 percent cut in electric bills and a 6.5 percent decrease on gas each month. The typical industrial property will see a 2.9 percent decrease in electric bills and a 6.7 percent decrease for gas.
The savings might be short-lived, however. Next month. the council will vote on a set of rate increases that would take effect Jan. 1.