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Carbondale avoids hand counting of 2020 ballots, approves budget

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The voted to turn Carbondale’s three municipal election precincts into one to avoid hand counting all the ballots.

Carbondale is now a one-precinct town for municipal elections.

The town’s trustees voted to turn Carbondale’s three municipal election precincts into one, prompted by changes to Garfield County’s election equipment.

“This is to allow us to operate an election without just going crazy and counting all these ballots by hand,” Town Manager Jay Harrington said.

In years past, Town Clerk Cathy Derby said she would go between the three different polling locations in town on election day to make sure each election judge had everything they needed.

But when Derby was preparing for the town’s municipal elections in April, the county clerk’s office informed her that their new machines were not set up to handle a precinct election.

Garfield County is one of the few counties that allow municipalities to count votes on their equipment. If Carbondale didn’t use the county’s equipment, they would have to do hand counts, or rent equipment for a cost.

Derby said she came up with the idea to ask the board to do away with the three precincts, since all town representatives run and serve at large anyway.

The three precincts were originally set up to avoid long lines on election day at a time when most people voted in person.

“Now, with the mail ballot, there’s absolutely no reason to have it,” Derby said.

Three trustee seats are up for election at the April 7 municipal elections. Nomination forms must be turned in by Jan.27.

Board approves 2020 budget

Carbondale trustees approved a $24 million budget Tuesday, predicting more growth in revenue during 2020.

The town saw a 3 percent increase in sales tax revenue in 2019 following a strong year for the economy, but estimates a less than 2 percent increase in 2020.

Like the 2019 budget, the 2020 budget dips into the reserve funds slightly.

“The 2020 Budget plans for $448,993 of reserve general fund spending,” according to budget documents. That is mostly for capital projects.

2020 capital projects include street resurfacing, planning for pedestrian and accessibility improvements for Eighth Street, and the Red Hill parking lot improvements.

The budget also allocates up to $25,000 to hire consultants to develop single-use plastic reduction strategies.

The plastic waste issue has been a hot topic in Carbondale. Earlier this year, the trustees declined to expand a plastic bag ban that currently applies only to City Market, the largest store in Carbondale, after businesses said the ban was applied unfairly.

Trustee Ben Bohmfalk said that in order to spend the whole amount on consultants, the strategies would need to be impressive.

“It just sounds like a lot to spend on a process that I have a feeling is going to come back with a recommendation that we ban straws and bags in all stores or something like that. If we’re going to spend that ,I want to get something really incredible out of it,” Bohmfalk said.

The board will discuss plastic reduction strategies at a work session Dec. 17.

tphippen@postindependent.com


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