Town of Winter Park Town Council mulls potential ballot questions
January 24, 2012
WINTER PARK – The Town Council began considering election ballot questions this week.
Items council members are considering placing in front of voters for the 2012 election concern a sales tax extension, simplifying voter registration, charter changes to make it gender-neutral, setting election dates, and publication of legal notices in the newspaper.
All the issues affect the town charter and its provisions.
Sales tax extension
The sales tax extension measure would renew the 1 percent sales tax that funds marketing and capital improvements in Winter Park. The sales-tax extension ballot question, as it stands, is posed every four years because the tax automatically “sunsets” every four years.
The money to be generated from this tax in 2012, based on the 2012 Winter Park budget, is $870,222. A memo from Winter Park Town Manager Drew Nelson to the Town Council states that the tax has been in place since 1991 and has been renewed four times.
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The memo asks the council to consider asking voters to extend the 1 percent tax indefinitely.
A ballot question concerning online publication of public notices would change the way legal notices are distributed to constituents.
Currently, public notices must be published in a newspaper of general circulation in Winter Park. Officials believe that the way consumers consume news is changing and they want to post notices, including legal notices, in any way they deem will benefit their constituents, such as on the town website, through social media, and other technologies. The official publications would be handled at the discretion of the town clerk.
The election date measure asks voters to change the date of the municipal election to match the statewide municipal election date, which is the first Tuesday in April. Currently the election date is listed in Winter Park’s charter as the first Tuesday after the first Monday in April, which has potential to vary from the statewide election date.
Streamlined voter registration
The voter registration ballot question would “turn over voter registration to the County Clerk, eliminating the need for local voters to register both in Winter Park and Grand County.
Another measure would change wording in the Winter Park Home Rule Charter to gender-neutral language rather than the all-masculine language currently in the Charter.
Non-resident voting rejected
Initially, council was to be asked to consider a non-resident voting measure that, if passed, would have allowed non-resident property owners to vote in local elections. Mountain Village is the only town in Colorado that allows non-resident voting. After reviewing this measure in the town meeting, however, the council decided to not pursue it for the 2012 ballot.
The next step in this process entails drafting the specific measures and having the town attorney review them, Nelson said.
Kristen Lodge can be reached at 970-887-3334 ext. 19610