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Monday, November 30, 2015

Pros, cons of Aims district weighed at forum

By Sandy Barnes
Berthoud Recorder

Residents who came to the Citizens First forum on the Aims Community College tax district on Oct. 22 expressed their varying views while hearing pros and cons from speakers.

Some agreed with State Sen. Kevin Lundberg who questioned the benefit of paying an additional tax to be in the district. “I don’t see that it’s in the best interest for the people of Berthoud,” Lundberg said.

The $400,000 that would be generated annually for the college from the 6.299 mill levy is not a good financial deal for Berthoud residents, he added. If Town voters approve the tax district in the mail-in election, they would pay approximately$ 100 for a home valued at $200,000. Revenues from Berthoud residents would be directed to funding a new Aims campus near the intersection of Hwy. 56 and Interstate 25.

Mayor Tom Patterson pointed to the benefits of having a community college near Berthoud that is affordable and adapts to the changing needs of the work force.

Jan Dowker, who is a member of the Berthoud Economic Resource Team, advised those present to vote “yes” for inclusion in the district. “A ‘yes’ vote will allow funding support,” she said. Students who attend the Berthoud campus of Aims would not only benefit from its presence educationally, but would also contribute to the Berthoud economy, she remarked. Those in the Aims district also receive the benefit of reduced tuition when attending the college, paying about 30 percent less per credit hour than out-of-district rates.

During the public comment portion of the forum, former Berthoud High School Principal Leonard Sherman commended Aims for offering college level-classes at the high school. He also pointed out disadvantages to the tax district, which he said is a pay-now, get-later situation in terms of the Berthoud campus, which is projected to open in 2012. Sherman also said that while everyone will pay the tax, only those who attend the college will benefit from it — which is also true of public education, he added.

Laura Lundberg, daughter of Sen. Lundberg, is attending Aims and spoke against the tax district. “The only confirmed benefit to the people of Berthoud would be the tuition discount,” she said. “It doesn’t make sense economically for the people of Berthoud.”

“It would benefit the community,” Dowker replied.

Duane Penny, manager of the Lehman printing plant in Berthoud, spoke in favor of the tax district because of the long-term benefits it would bring. “I want to do this for other children in the community,”

Citizens’ First member Mark O’Leary read questions submitted at the forum, including one from a senior citizen who expressed concern about the added expense of the college-district tax. O’Leary also voiced support for the tax district which he said he considers “an investment on quality of life.”

At the close of the forum, Citizens First member Judy Lehn encouraged people to vote in the election. “Please vote, and knock on your neighbor’s doors and ask them to vote,” she said.

Berthoud residents who wish to vote have until 7 p.m. Nov. 3 to submit their ballots to Larimer County offices. They may be mailed in or taken to county offices in Loveland and Fort Collins.

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<p>At the Aims meeting, Mayor Tom Patterson, left, State Sen. Kevin Lundberg, Aims staffer Jared Fiel and BERT member Jan Dowker.</p>

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