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Voters crush mill levy increase bid

A county-requested mill levy increase was soundly defeated at the polls, according to the unofficial election results released Tuesday night.

As of Wednesday morning, vote totals showed Ballot Question 1A being defeated by almost a four-to-one margin, with 3,045 votes in opposition and 810 votes in favor.

“I think, certainly, the people have spoken, and very decisively,” County Administrator Greg Schulte said in a Wednesday morning phone interview.

In a separate Wednesday interview, Board of County Commissioners Chair Clifford Lucero admitted he was not surprised that the measure failed at the polls, but was surprised by how soundly it was defeated.

“Everybody’s hurting,” Lucero said, noting he believes voters considered their pocketbooks before casting their ballots.

“We have some money to spend on roads and we’ll do the best we can with the resources we have,” Lucero continued, adding, “Hopefully we can do enough to at least keep the roads in the condition they’re in.”

Lucero said the commission and county staff will go back to the drawing board in terms of looking at roads funding, with all options on the table.

Schulte said roads funding comes from three sources — property tax, sales tax and gas tax — and, with an increase in property tax revenues out of the question and an increase in gas tax unlikely, the only likelihood for increased revenue is increased revenue from sales tax.

The commissioners have also previously spoken in favor of the formation of various improvement district and metropolitan district options, and in choosing the length of the proposed ballot issue, publicly took into account the length of time needed to form various types of districts.

The county’s ballot question proposed collecting an additional 7 mills, equating to approximately $2.26 million per year (based on 2012 property value estimates) for four years.

The ballot question proposed spending the additional revenue in accordance with the county’s five-year road plan created by consulting firm Short Elliott Hendrickson, Inc.

In order to retain the revenue, the ballot question included a “de-Brucing” figure to all the county to collect the revenue that exceeds TABOR limits.

Voter turnout

Within Archuleta County, 3,900 total votes were counted — 63.84 percent of active registered voters (6,109 voters), according to data provided by the Achuleta County Election Office.

While almost 64 percent of active voters participated in this year’s mail ballot election, the figure equates to only 40.89 percent of total registered voters in Archuleta County because ballots were not mailed to inactive voters.

County Clerk and Recorder June Madrid said the voter turnout fell in line with what she expected, adding that she expected somewhere around 62 or 63 percent of active voters to participate.

Despite a campaign to urge voters to reactivate their status, Madrid said only 125 voters did so — about the same number of voters who requested a replacement ballot.

Madrid said the Election Office is now gearing up for a recount of Archuleta County votes placed in two close Ignacio races (some Archuleta County voters live within the Ignacio school district boundaries) and to canvas the Archuleta County results and make them official.

Madrid said the office has to wait eight days before canvassing the results by Nov. 18.

Madrid said no outcomes will change in the process of making the results official.

With an eye to the future, Madrid said she hopes to expand the use of mail ballot elections in Archuleta County, such as for primary elections, because they are easier to accommodate with fewer staff members (polling places don’t have to be arranged and tended to), though state rules for regular elections differ from those for odd-year elections.

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