Breckenridge council considers ordinance to put notices online
summit daily news
BRECKENRIDGE – Breckenridge voters may decide April 6 whether some town legal notices will be published online rather than in the Summit County Journal.
“The current procedure is useless. Nobody reads the Journal,” Breckenridge Town Councilman Eric Mamula said at a recent work session. “I can’t imagine anybody’s going to be upset about any change.”
An amendment to the town charter would be necessary before the town could publish notices exclusively online. Council will likely make a preliminary vote to put the cost-saving issue on the ballot at its next meeting Feb. 9.
State law requires publication of certain documents, such as those regarding annexations, to be published in a newspaper. Town attorney Tim Berry said in a memo that finding exactly which notices may be published online “is tricky and will take some time.”
The weekly Journal’s circulation is about 10 percent that of the Summit Daily, and the Journal is available at about 30 locations across the county. Legal notices go in the Journal – a historic publication dating back to 1860 – because the state requires a certain percentage of paid circulation for any newspaper publishing legal notices; the Summit Daily is free.
Jim Morgan, publisher of the Summit Daily and the Journal, said publishing the notices is required by law to keep people informed of important government issues “and posting them on the town’s website won’t necessarily satisfy that need.”
“Certainly the town’s desire to save money should be applauded,” Morgan said. “But any debate about legal notices or disseminating information about a public body shouldn’t be about money.”
The Town of Vail has been publishing notices online since January, 2009.
“We have put ordinances and resolutions on the Web; all the others are still in the newspaper,” Vail Town Clerk Lorelei Donaldson said.
The Breckenridge council at Tuesday’s work session discussed having a period of transition from the Journal to the Internet so that folks – especially people to whom the publication is mailed outside Summit County – aren’t caught off guard.
Some council members said they’d prefer to have relevant town notices printed in the Summit Daily.
“I’d rather pay extra money for staff to do a synopsis of what we’re doing in the next meeting,” Mamula said.
Councilman Peter Joyce said changing notices from print to online is a “more sustainable approach.”
Meanwhile, a bill moving through the state Legislature could make it possible for legal notices to be published in the Summit Daily and other free publications.
House Bill 1063 would allow municipalities to place the notices in free community newspapers.
“I think it’s a real positive bill,” said state Sen. Dan Gibbs of Summit County, who co-sponsored the bill, adding that his district has numerous free newspapers.
The bill passed through the House unanimously on Wednesday, Gibbs said. “I’m hoping for good things over in the Senate, too.”
The Colorado Press Association supports the bill.
“The laws regulating legal publications actually penalize free-distribution newspapers, and we would like nothing more than for that law to be amended to allow for the publication of all legals in the Summit Daily,” Morgan said.
Robert Allen can be contacted at (970) 668-4628 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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