Silverthorne: TABOR and housekeeping measures on ballot
summit daily news
SILVERTHORNE – With early voters hitting the polls, Silverthorne residents are deciding whether to keep the town’s TABOR revenue cap exemption in place indefinitely. They’re also addressing a few “housekeeping” measures pertaining to town elections.
Silverthorne “de-Bruced” in 1994, and the measure allowed the town to retain all revenues collected until 2013. The town wants to continue with its revenue retention, the only difference in the measure being that it will not include a “sunset” provision.
According to the town, the ballot question wouldn’t include a tax hike – it’s only asking for an exemption to the specific part of the TABOR law focused on revenue collection limitations. All other voter rights under TABOR would remain in place.
Financial director Donna Braun said that more than $7 million in sales tax revenue would have been returned to citizens if Silverthorne didn’t de-Bruce over 10 years ago. This means projects like the Blue River Trail and the North Pond project wouldn’t have happened. She also noted that there would be less public safety and public works employees to serve community growth. It would also have made it more difficult for the town to pay off debts early.
There’s no property tax in Silverthorne, so sales tax income has become very important for the town’s daily operations, said Braun. And being able to retain all sales tax revenue is a way for the town to build up its reserves.
Yet, Dr. Barry Poulson, a TABOR expert at Independence Institute in Golden, said: “If you look at the cities around Colorado that have kept the TABOR limit in place, it’s kept the growth of government in line with the private sector.”
He used Colorado Springs as an example – Poulson said it’s one of the most rapidly growing cities in Colorado and it’s had TABOR in place since 1991.
“They’ve been able to issue debt and build a new airport,” he said, adding that they’ve also increased their expenditures on a wide range of projects and the town has kept its taxes low.
The first question deals with amending Section 2.3, titled “Election Day.” The question is asking residents to allow election days to be held on the first Tuesday in April, rather than the first Monday following the first Tuesday in April.
“We’re currently out of sync with other towns in the county – that’ll make us consistent with the rest of the community,” said assistant to the town manager Ryan Hyland.
The second question asks residents to repeal Section 2.7, called “Nominating Petitions.”
According to Hyland, candidates for public office are required to get signatures saying they should be a candidate. He said Silverthorne’s timeline for petitions are different than the state, and that can be confusing to candidates. If approved, the town would use the state requirement.
The third question asks town residents to repeal Section 2.8, called “Notice of Election.”
“The current notice of election requirements are very similar, but not precisely the same as state statute,” Hyland said, adding that this, too, can cause confusion. The town currently has to publish the notice exactly as it’s seen on the ballot, including in the same size and form.
If approved, the measure would require the notice to be published with the same content, but not in the same size and shape. This would be in line with state requirements too.
“On all three of these, what we’re doing is transitioning to the state statute, which is more commonly used,” Hyland said.
For more information on any of these ballot questions, contact the Town of Silverthorne at (970) 262-7300.
Caitlin Row can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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