Local jurisdictions submit questions for November ballot
From marijuana to taxes to mayoral races, voters in cities and towns throughout Garfield County will have their share of issues to decide in the November election.
Last week marked the deadline for local jurisdictions participating in a coordinated election to submit their certified ballot content to the Garfield County Clerk and Recorder’s Office.
With the exception of Rifle, voters in each municipality will have at least two local questions to answer, along with regional and statewide races and ballot issues.
Voters in unincorporated Garfield County, Carbondale, New Castle, Silt and Parachute will all decide on a broadband question that would grant the local jurisdiction the option to participate in the telecommunications business.
The question is necessary under a 2005 state law requiring local governments to have voter approval before engaging in the telecommunications business beyond providing services in government facilities.
Approval of the question does not guarantee that a local government would take action, rather, it gives them the ability to do.
Glenwood Springs is already exempt from the state law due to a previously approved ballot question, and with no other municipal ballot issues this fall Rifle is electing to postpone a possible broadband question until a later election.
Beyond telecommunications, voters in local municipalities have other ballot items to decide.
Voters will have three names to choose from to serve as the town’s next mayor.
Trustee Katrina Byars, former Trustee Ed Cortez and Mayor Pro-Tem Dan Richardson are all vying for the seat that became available following Stacey Bernot’s resignation and move to Redstone earlier this year after serving six years as mayor.
Richardson, who was voted onto the Board of Trustees in April, was appointed mayor pro tem after one meeting and has served as acting mayor since Bernot left town government.
Cortez previously served on the board for eight years and lost to Bernot in the 2010 race for mayor.
Byars has served on the board for the past two years.
If either Byars or Richardson is elected mayor, trustee will have to decide how to fill their seat on the board.
The city is seeking a 30-year extension to a 1-cent sales and use tax set to expire at the end of 2018.
The tax, known as the acquisitions and improvements fund tax, has funded projects including the community center, City Hall and various improvements since it was first approved 18 years ago.
Additionally, voters will decide a second ballot question asking for up to $54 million in bonding capacity to finance traffic projects.
The town will elect its next mayor, although voters will have fewer choices than those in Carbondale.
Mayor Art Riddile, who was appointed to the position earlier this year after Bob Gordon resigned, was the only person to file the necessary paperwork to appear on the ballot. Per the town’s charter, the appointment only lasts until the next general election, meaning Riddile’s name will still appear on the ballot despite not having any challengers.
Also, the town is asking voters for authorization to grant a non-exclusive franchise to a public service company for 20 years.
Under the New Castle charter, the town cannot enter into a franchise with a duration of more than five years without voter approval. The ballot question come after conversations with Xcel Energy, which has a current franchise agreement that expires Nov. 9 of this year.
Xcel has requested a 20-year franchise agreement, under which the town receives a franchise fee in exchange for access to town streets and other public easements.
Voters here will once again have marijuana-related questions to answer, including a potential ban of marijuana businesses.
The citizen-initiated ballot question dates back to 2015 when residents, who were outraged when trustees voted to allow recreational marijuana businesses in town, led a movement against a majority of the town board, including an unsuccessful recall effort of the mayor and two trustees earlier this year.
The ballot question, which asks if the town should prohibit the licensing and operation of retail marijuana businesses, was delayed until the 2016 general election due to a provision in the Colorado constitutional amendment legalizing recreational marijuana.
While simultaneously deciding on whether to ban an industry already flourishing in Parachute, the town also is seeking a 5 percent excise tax on manufactured retail and medical marijuana, as well as cultivated medical marijuana.
Last November, nearly 66 percent of voters voted in support of a different marijuana excise tax on retail cultivation.
Outside of marijuana, voters will decide if the town charter should be amended to limit the mayor and trustees to three four-year terms in office. Terms would be considered consecutive unless they are two or more years apart.
Voters here also will decide a marijuana tax question.
The proposal sent to the electorate by town trustees would impose a 3.5 percent excise tax on unprocessed retail marijuana sold or transferred from a marijuana cultivation facility, product manufacturing facility or retail store.
In discussing the question earlier this summer, town trustees agreed to set the tax rate below the rate in surrounding municipalities.
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The Forest Service plans to replace the Carbondale Aspen-Sopris ranger district station with a newer, larger facility.