Keystone residents pitch their vision for a new town with weeks to go before incorporation vote
Candidates vying for the ability to help craft the would-be town’s charter spoke to residents about the process and why they support incorporation. But some questions from the community highlighted the uncertainty that remains.
Roughly three weeks before Keystone residents will decide their future with a vote to become Colorado’s newest town, proponents of the effort hosted a public meeting on March 2 featuring a slew of candidates running to sit on the would-be town’s charter commission.
The charter, the governing document for Keystone should residents vote to incorporate, will be drafted by the commission and voted on by residents at a later point but only if voters support incorporation when the all-mail election ends at 7 p.m. March 28.
Ballots will begin arriving in the mailboxes of Keystone’s roughly 900 registered voters on March 6. According to Kevin Linehan, chair for the election commission, which is overseeing the vote, there is no threshold for votes to decide the election’s outcome — meaning it will be a simple majority of the votes cast. The election marks the second such effort by residents to break from Summit County government in the past two decades.
“There’s a lot of issues that haven’t been addressed, and that caused the resurgence of the effort,” said Ken Riley, president of both the Keystone Incorporation Committee and the Keystone Citizens League — groups that are supporting incorporation. “The only way that we’re going to get our needs met in this community is to incorporate.”
For charter commission candidates, the effort stems from Keystone’s “unmet needs” that they claim the county is not positioned to address. From investments in infrastructure to public safety, candidates, all of whom are long-term Keystone residents, pitched their vision of Keystone as a self-governing town that controls its tax revenue and makes its own legislative decisions.
“There’s a big future in front of us,” said Doyle Richmond, a Loveland Pass Village resident. “We have an opportunity as the local residents and registered voters to control that money.”
“We have literally no voice or power,” said Valerie Thisted, a resident of the North Fork Estates neighborhood, who described incorporation as a “grassroots effort born out of frustration.”
The benefits of incorporating, proponents said, include a seat at the table with the Colorado Department of Transportation to address safety concerns on U.S. Highway 6, targeted spending of tax revenue for projects important to the community, and the ability to approve — or reject — new developments.
But establishing a new town will cost millions per year and advocates of incorporation have differed with county officials over the proposal’s financial sustainability. While a five-year budget projection by the citizens league shows millions on hand for the town after expenses, a separate projection commissioned by the county and conducted by an outside consultant shows the town could have just a few hundred thousand in remaining funds which county officials said was not “sufficient to operate the town of Keystone,” according to a staff memo.
Some residents in the audience during the March 2 forum highlighted the uncertainty of the would-be town’s finances. In response to questions about whether the town would have to raise taxes to pay for services, Tim Huiting, a resident of The Sanctuary neighborhood and also a charter commission candidate, called it “very unlikely.”
The existing tax revenues more than pay for what the town would need, Huiting claimed, though he said once a town council is formed it could make the decision to raise taxes.
“We aren’t pulling the wool over anybody,” said Dan Sullivan, a resident of The Alders neighborhood and also a commission candidate.
Other questions centered around the impacts on Vail Resorts and if the company would still provide services, such as its bus route, to Keystone should it incorporate. In response, Riley told residents “that’s our assumption.”
Ballots can be dropped off at the Keystone Center, located at 1628 Saints John Road, beginning March 9 on Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. It will also be open all day until 7 p.m. on election day, March 28.
Along with a question about incorporation, voters will also have the chance to approve a nine-person committee tasked with writing the guiding document for the town, known as a charter, should incorporation pass. The 13 candidates vying for to sit on the committee are:
- Valerie Thisted
- Erich Swartz
- Doyle Richmond
- William Schorling
- Tim Huiting
- Sarah Keel
- Ken Riley
- Julia M. Metzger
- Dan Sullivan
- Andre O. Foy
- Gretchen G. Davis
- Peter Reeburgh
- David Bacon
Information on each candidate can be found at IncorporateKeystone.WildApricot.org/Charter-Commission-Candidates.
Support Local Journalism
Support Local Journalism
As a Summit Daily News reader, you make our work possible.
Summit Daily is embarking on a multiyear project to digitize its archives going back to 1989 and make them available to the public in partnership with the Colorado Historic Newspapers Collection. The full project is expected to cost about $165,000. All donations made in 2023 will go directly toward this project.
Every contribution, no matter the size, will make a difference.