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Montezuma-Cortez district releases plan for tax spending

Voters must drop off ballots at county office
The current Montezuma-Cortez bus fleet will be replaced in 15 years at $100,000 per bus, according to Superintendent Lori Haukeness.

Montezuma-Cortez Re-1 Superintendent Lori Haukeness on Friday outlined plans for new buses, improved technology and increased salaries and benefits as Tuesday’s vote on the proposed mill levy neared.

In the last days of the election cycle, residents continued to voice concerns about the open-ended nature of the school district’s mill levy resolution on the ballot.

Haukeness on Friday released the district’s plans for new buses and technology infrastructure in an email to The Journal.


The current bus fleet will be replaced in 15 years, based on a purchase price of $100,000 per bus.In the first year, the district will purchase four buses using a three-year loan, paid by annual payments from mill levy revenueReplace four buses on a three-year cycle after first year


The current bus fleet will be replaced in 15 years, based on a purchase price of $100,000 per bus.In the first year, the district will purchase four buses using a three-year loan, paid by annual payments from mill levy revenueReplace four buses on a three-year cycle after first yearA replacement cycle of four to five yearsReplace 446 student devices and 75 staff devices per year to maintain current levelOne to One student devices for grades 3-12 grade in three yearsIn an email on Oct. 24, Haukeness said of the plan to recruit and retain teachers, “The district has developed revised salary schedules for all staff. Those documents, which are open to the public, have been designed to bring RE-1’s salaries in line with that of surrounding districts.”

According to Re-1 School Board President Jack Shuenemeyer, the specifics of the plans were made by the administration and brought to the board for approval.

“We approved the mill levy in open session and that is what the board approved,” Schuenemeyer said. “The board was presented with this information that came out of the consensus of discussions with community members, various board members, staff members and teachers.”

A few voters have reportedly tried to deliver their ballots to the Mancos Public Library, but the only voting location this year is the Montezuma County Clerk and Recorder’s Office at 140 W. Main St., Suite 1, Cortez.

Montezuma County residents have until 7 p.m. Tuesday to vote in the school district elections. Voters can also deliver ballots to the 24-hour drop box in the rear parking lot. The office will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Election Day. Results will be released sometime after 7 p.m.

Mancos librarian Lee Hallberg said several people have tried to drop off ballots at the library in the past week. Peter Robinson, co-chair of Precinct 11 for the Montezuma County Democrats, said the party conducted a “get out the vote” phone campaign that week, in which they told several voters they could deliver their ballots to the library. The Mancos Library was a voting location in the 2016 election, along with the Dolores Public Library, but that is not the case this year.

“That was kind of disturbing news,” Robinson said. “If you mail ballots from Mancos, it can take days to get to Cortez, because it goes to Albuquerque.”

The library posted a notice to its Facebook page on Thursday telling voters to deliver their ballots to the county office instead, and Hallberg said they had put a sign on the door with the same message.

“I just don’t want a lot of people to come in with ballots on Tuesday,” Hallberg said.

Jessica Gonzalez, an administrator at the Dolores Public Library, said “one or two” people have asked the staff whether the building is a drop location this year, but as of Friday morning, no one had tried to drop off a ballot there.

As of Thursday night, Percell said 2,830 people had voted in Montezuma-Cortez School District RE-1, or 24 percent of the district’s active registered voters; 696 in Mancos School District RE-6, or 29 percent of active voters; and 651 in Dolores School District RE-4A, or 22 percent of active voters.

In Cortez, residents are voting on Ballot Question 3B, a mill levy override that would raise property taxes in the district in order to increase the general fund. In Mancos, the major issue on the ballot is Bond Measure 3A, which would increase the district’s debt by $4.95 million, to be paid off with increased property taxes, in order to renovate the school buildings. Dolores has no ballot questions this year, but it does have two open school board positions, for which seven candidates have made election bids.

Five RE-1 school board members are up for election this year. John Schuenemeyer (District F) and Kara Suckla (District G) are running unopposed, but Brian Balfour (District A) is being challenged by Tiffany Cheney, and Geof Byerly (District F) is challenging Sherri Noyes. Josiah Forkner is running unopposed for the District D seat vacated by the retirement of Eric Whyte.

In Mancos, Blake Mitchell and Boe Hawkins are running unopposed for re-election.

How to vote

Registered voters in the Cortez, Dolores and Mancos school districts can deliver their mail-in ballots to the Montezuma County Clerk and Recorder’s Office, 140 W. Main St., Suite 1, Cortez, through 7 p.m. Tuesday. Anyone who has not yet registered to vote can do so at the clerk and recorder’s office during business hours.

Replacement ballots will also be available there until the 7 p.m. Tuesday deadline.

The office will be open Tuesday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Ballots can also be placed in the 24-hour drop box outside the building.

For more information, contact Kim Percell at 970-565-3728 or kpercell@co.montezuma.co.us.

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