Carbondale’s home rule charter goes into effect, rather quietly | PostIndependent.com
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Carbondale’s home rule charter goes into effect, rather quietly

Something historic happened to Carbondale July 1, but only a few folks noticed.What did not happen, but would have been noteworthy:-The board of trustees didn’t extend sister city status to Satank.-Eric Clapton was not spotted jamming with Howard Berkman and Frank Martin at Steve’s Guitars.-Laurie Loeb (of Town Mothers fame) and John Tindall (of Crystal River Marketplace fame) did not play a round of golf together at River Valley Ranch.What did happen is Carbondale’s home rule charter kicked in, but with nary a ripple in the way the town is being run.”There was little or no effect that residents would see,” said Mayor Michael Hassig.The main point of discussion the home rule charter opens up for now, Hassig said, is whether Carbondale should impose an accommodation tax on lodging facilities. The revenues would fund tourism promotion.The Board of Trustees expects to discuss the proposed accommodation tax in August, and the question could go to voters in November.”That’s the only thing of significance at this point,” Hassig said of the home rule changes.Home rule status gives municipalities broader governing powers than allowed under state statutes.For example, Carbondale can now extend a 0.5 percent sales tax earmarked for recreation facilities that is scheduled to end in 2010. If Carbondale were still a statutory town, state sales tax limits would prevent the extension.”We may want to ask residents if they want to extend that tax sooner rather than later,” Hassig said.Hassig said voters could also hike the recreation sales tax beyond the 0.5 percent currently charged on most retail sales.The Home Rule Charter Commission, which town residents elected last year to draft the commission, wanted the document to be a “road map” that residents could use into the future.”We tried to avoid any significant changes,” Charter Commission Chairwoman Debbie Quinn said in February.Home rule status also allows municipalities to change some voting eligibility requirements. Hassig said Carbondale’s charter does not address eligibility issues, but it could if residents wanted to amend it.Although it did not need home rule status to do so, Carbondale’s Board of Trustees is also streamlining some of the town’s land use codes to give the planning and zoning commission more authority. The commission is mostly an advisory board at this time.The changes would allow the planning commission to make final rulings on subdivision exemptions and in-fill applications. Such issues would only go to the trustees on appeal.”This would allow us to spend more time on long range planning rather than the minutia,” Hassig said. “We have bigger issues to consider.”Contact Lynn Burton: 945-8515, ext. 534lburton@postindependent.com


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