By Shari Phiel
Berthoud residents won’t have to wait until November to voice their opinions on the proposed Aims Junior College District expansion and related tax. As per Colorado state constitution requirements, The Town of Berthoud has opened an official comment period until 5 p.m. Sept. 18.
Voters in November will decide whether a tax of 6.299 mils on “taxable real property” within Town limits is to be put in place. If approved, the tax would go into effect in 2010. The ballot question specifies how those tax dollars would be spent as well.
The ballot question states, “With approval of such tax to also effect the annexation into the Aims Junior College District of that part of the Town of Berthoud which is not already within the district’s boundaries.”
Specifically, an estimated $370,000 per year would be raised, based on current Larimer County tax rolls, and would go to the new Aims 40-acre Berthoud campus to be built just east of the Interstate 25 and Highway 56 area interchange.
Support for the new tax and inclusion into the Aims district has come from the Berthoud Town council, who see the new facility as not only an opportunity to provide better educational resources for the Berthoud community, but the new campus’s focus on alternative energy and environmental sustainability will hopefully build on the Town’s economic development efforts.
“When I look particularly at economic development, I spent some time in California, the Silicon Valley and so forth, and there’s a college at every exit,” said Gary Suiter, Berthoud’s interim Town administrator, who also supports the district expansion. “They view economic development as starting with education.”
Aims, which currently has campuses in Greeley, Fort Lupton and downtown Loveland, purchased a 30-acre parcel from the McWhinney Corporation two years ago for $5.2 million and optioned another 10 acres since then. The new campus will border the McWhinney master planned community of Wilson Ranch featuring 4,000 new homes to be built over the next 40 years.
The real question for voters will be whether or not Berthoud will be getting back enough to make paying the tax worthwhile. Although residents will receive a tuition discount of $27 per credit hour, reducing the current tuition rate from $82 to $55 per credit hour, some don’t see the return on investment for Berthoud.
Sen. Kevin Lundberg, whose son previously attended Aims Community College in Greeley and whose daughter is a current student, thinks the location out by I-25 will leave Berthoud out of the financial benefits.
The election will be held Tuesday, Nov. 3 and will require the majority approval of voters to pass. Under House Bill 09-1079, signed into law by Gov. Bill Ritter in March 2009 specifically to address the Berthoud question, approval of the “eligible electors of the existing junior college district” and “eligible electors of the municipality” is needed to pass the new tax.
Comments should be submitted to Berthoud Town Hall by 5 p.m., Sept. 18 and must include name, address and phone number of the person commenting. For more information visit the Berthoud Web site at www.Berthoud.org. For more information about Aims Community College go to www.Aims.edu.
Comments Sought on Aims Ballot Question
The Colorado Constitution provides the opportunity for comments regarding the following ballot question. Comments must be received at the Berthoud Town Hall by 5 p.m. on Sept. 18. No summary shall mention names of persons or private groups, nor any endorsements or resolutions against the proposal.
All comments must include name, address and phone number of the commentator: Shall a new tax for the Aims Junior College District be approved in the estimated amount of $369,298, by a new mill levy of 6.299 mills upon taxable real property within Larimer County, which lies within the Town of Berthoud, commencing with the taxing year 2010, and by whatever additional amounts are raised annually thereafter, with approval of such tax to also effect the annexation into the Aims Junior College District of that part of the Town of Berthoud which is not already within the district’s boundaries?
— Town of Berthoud