Broadband opt-out provisions sail through in Silverthorne, Dillon elections
Silverthorne and Dillon voters on Tuesday opted out of a state law restricting the towns from investing in broadband services, as expected, but the biggest shocker of Summit County’s election likely came with Dillon residents rejecting a measure that would have allowed the town to borrow against its housing fund.
If passed, ballot measure 2B would have allowed Dillon to issue bonds against the 5A workforce housing construction funds, ensuring the town could move forward with projects when they become available, according to town officials.
“I’d say that we are disappointed,” said Kerstin Anderson, Dillon’s director of marketing and events, of the result. “We know that the citizens have voted to support the 5A tax and workforce-housing projects, so you would think that for us to take measures to be prepared to spend against those dollars would be a shoo-in.”
However with 105 votes against and 89 in favor, the measure failed.
Anderson believes the failure might suggest residents want more details about workforce-housing plans before moving forward.
Noting there have been a number of changes in Dillon recently, Anderson said, “Absolutely, this could be the town saying, ‘Hey, let’s pump the brakes and get more info.’”
The challenge now lies with the town to continue analyzing opportunities and figure out the best ways to use that money for workforce-housing projects that meet the community’s needs, she said.
At the same time, more than 85 percent of Silverthorne voters and 73 percent of voters in Dillon supported opting out of the 2005 state law that prevents municipalities from using taxpayer dollars for broadband services, either directly or through a partnership with a third party.
Those high percentages were largely expected and fall in line with what’s happened in similar ballot measure across Colorado the last few years.
“Silverthorne now joins a large number of Colorado communities that have options when it comes to providing broadband,” said Ryan Hyland, town manager. “Although we do not currently have any plans to provide broadband services, we now have that option, and also the option to partner with a provider if that opportunity were to arise.”
He added that broadband is “critical to the success of any community, and it’s not a stretch to say that broadband is becoming an essential service, like other utilities.”
“We need to make sure that we can be a part of that equation if necessary, and our voters have provided that option to the town.”
Altogether, more than 100 Colorado communities had passed similar opt-out measures heading into Tuesday. Now, there are 18 more, including Dillon, Silverthorne, Avon, Georgetown, Gypsum, Minturn, Idaho Springs and Vail.
Across its six-county special tax district, Colorado Mountain College was seeking to recoup tax revenues by hiking property taxes lost to adjustments in residential-property assessments. However, that ballot measure was narrowly defeated with 53 percent voting against it.
For the CMC ballot question, Pitkin and Routt counties favored the tax hike while voters in Garfield, Eagle, Summit and Lake counties were against it. In Summit County, the vote was closer than the overall total with 50.4 percent opposed and 49.7 percent in favor.
Additionally, longtime educator Peg Portscheller won 63 percent of the vote, defeating Rifle Mayor Randy Winkler for a seat on the Colorado Mountain College Board of Trustees, while Doris Dewton and Charles Cunniffe also won seats on the CMC board after running unopposed.
Election results have not yet been certified. According to an unofficial tally, Summit County saw about 18 percent turnout with 4,830 people casting ballots out of 26,404 registered voters.
Summit County Clerk Kathleen Neel estimated that about 20,000 of those are “active voters,” which is “pretty decent” for an odd-year election without too much on the ballot.
According to Neel, who also touted the county’s new voting machines, 115 people cast ballots in person with the other 4,700 either mailing theirs in or leaving them at drop-off sites.
Neel said that, to her knowledge, there were no complaints or irregularities reported across Summit County in Tuesday’s election.
“I just want to thank the people who voted,” Anderson said. “The people who are showing up for elections are shaping the future of our communities, and we will continue look at the ways to utilize the 5A money to make a positive impact in our community.”
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