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10/24/2013 3,000 ballots mailed out; around 450 returned this week

County residents have received ballots in the mail, which need to be returned to the County Clerk’s office by Tuesday, November 5. Residents will cast their ballots for the C-1 School Board elections, an increase in the hospital mill levy, state education bill Amendment 66 and Proposition AA, or the marijuana tax.

According to Debbie Livengood, 3,083 ballots were sent out to local voters and, since October 21, Monday, 443 have been returned. Residents can either mail in the ballots or drop them into the ballot box at the county clerk’s office. For those wanting to vote the old-fashioned way, a voting machine is located in the county clerk’s office; voters must first surrender their mail-in ballot to use the machine. So far, according to Livengood, the machine has only been used once for the current election.

In voting for school board, all citizens who live in the C-1 School District can vote for each of the three candidates in districts 1, 4 and 5. In other words, an elector can cast one vote for each of the districts represented. District 1 candidates are Jill Rowland and Shelley Shelley, District 4 contenders are incumbent Dave Bennett and Terre Davis and District 5 contestants include Mike Benoit, Lockett Pitman and Bob Jolley.

The District 1 seat is currently held by Gary Frickell and the District 5 seat by Randy Woods; both are term limited and unable to run for a third term.

Also on the ballot is an increase in the hospital mill levy needed to fund the cost of emergency services in the county. Currently the hospital district mill levy is 4.9; to cover the continued operation of the ambulance corps, an increased mill levy of 3 mill, or $24 a year for a house valued at $100,000, is on the ballot.

Ballots will be accepted by people who own property in the district, including those who may not reside here full time and are registered to vote in the state of Colorado.

Amendment 66, an increase in taxes to benefit Colorado schools, will spend money in several areas including $75.4 million to rural and small school districts, $59 million to special education, $105 million for full-day kindergarten, and $374.5 million to highly effective principals and teachers. The Amendment also funds programs for at-risk pre-schoolers and second language learners.

Currently the statewide per-pupil funding is $6,652 and is expected to increase to $7,426 if Amendment 66 is passed.

The marijuana tax, or Proposition AA, if approved, will impose two different taxes on the sale of recreational marijuana, including a 15 percent excise tax as well as a ten percent sales tax. The revenue from the 15 percent levy will be used to fund the construction of schools. Proceeds from the sales tax will fund a state bureaucracy that will regulate and monitor the marijuana retail business.

State lawmakers calculate that the passage of Proposition AA will result in approximately $70 million a year filling state coffers, with $40 million set aside for public school capital construction.

People who are not registered to vote still have time to add their names to the voting rolls. October 28 is the last day residents can register online at custercountygov.com. Citizens can also register the day of the election, but must come into the county clerk’s office to do so. After a person registers on that day, he or she can then vote on a ballot machine that will be located there. People wanting to register must confirm that they have lived in the state for 22 days.

– Cyn Williams