By Sandy Barnes
Next week Berthoud residents can expect to get ballots in the mail for the upcoming vote on inclusion in the Aims Community College District. Citizens will be deciding whether to support a 6.299 mil levy that would equate to approximately $100 per year for a $200,000 home, which is expected to generate $370,000 annually for the college. The tax would go into effect beginning in 2010.
In return for the extra tax they pay, Town residents in the Aims district would benefit from a reduced tuition fee for classes, paying $58 per credit hour instead of the out-of-district $86 fee set for the year 2010.
The Larimer County elections office is overseeing the election, and ballots are scheduled to be mailed out between Oct. 13 and 19. Residents who would like participate in the election have until Oct. 27 pick up a ballot at a Larimer County office. All ballots are due by 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 3 when the general election take place.
To help people in Berthoud understand the pros and cons of the issue, the recently formed Citizens First civic group is planning an informational forum on Oct. 22 from 7 to 8 p.m. at the Berthoud Community Center on Welch Street. Organizer Dorian Ryan said that an educational presentation on the issue is planned at the beginning of the forum. Afterwards representatives will offer opposing views on the tax district. Colorado State Sen. Kevin Lundberg is planning speak against the measure. As of press time, Citizens First was still seeking a representative to speak in favor of it. There will be a question and answer period after the speakers have made comments.
At previous Town Board meetings, Aims Community College President Marsi Liddell has sought support for the tax district, which is tied to plans for building a campus on a 40-acre property in Berthoud at the intersection of Interstate 25 and Highway 56. Liddell has also worked with former Town Administrator Jim White in seeking state legislation to establish the tax district.
A master plan for the new campus is expected to be completed by the end of the year, and opening the Berthoud campus is planned for fall of 2011 or winter 2012. Aims presently has campuses in Loveland, Greeley and Fort Lupton.
Preliminary plans for buildings at the campus include sustainable, energy efficient design. Environmental technology will also be an emphasis in the courses of study offered at Aims in Berthoud. Outdoor laboratories for wind and solar energy at the campus are planned as part of the educational process for students training for green collar employment.