2021 ballot questions solidify for Grand
Grand County government looks like it might go for a couple questions on the ballot this November.
The two main topics that county commissioners are considering putting on the 2021 ballot are a mill levy ask for Grand County EMS and term limit questions for elected officials besides commissioners.
On Tuesday, commissioners continued discussions with EMS Chief Robert Good about a potential mill levy. Grand County currently has 2 mills for EMS operations and has not raised taxes for EMS since 2003.
Good outlined a seven-year plan that would need supplemental funding from a potential 1.75 mill question. The funding would increase compensation, add staff and an ambulance, and help EMS update outdated buildings. Good said he plans to share the plan with the public once it’s finalized.
During discussions, Commissioner Rich Cimino brought up the affordable housing crisis and wondered aloud if the county could ask voters for some sort of affordable housing tax.
Grand County Housing Authority Operations Director Sheena Darland explained why that isn’t currently possible.
“For a county-formed housing authority, we are not statutorily able to have a sales tax or mill levy,” Darland said. “In order to do that, it would have to be a multi-jurisdictional housing authority.”
If the public were interested in implementing an affordable housing tax, a regional or multi-jurisdictional housing authority would have to be formed first.
Also on Tuesday, commissioners discussed the other topic that might make it onto this year’s ballot — term limits for elected officials. Currently, only Grand County commissioners are limited to three four-year terms.
The other elected positions, including sheriff, coroner, assessor, clerk and recorder, sheriff, treasurer and surveyor, can serve as long as as they want and voters continue to re-elect them. Many of Grand’s elected officials have served in their positions for decades, and all were opposed to putting a term limit question on the ballot.
If the question were to go on the ballot and pass, the term limits would not be retroactive. For example, if a three-term limit passed, all elected officials would still be able to serve three more terms.
Commissioner Kris Manguso and Cimino were in favor of putting the question on the ballot, but Commissioner Merrit Linke remained opposed. Linke felt that a term limit would take away viable candidates from voters, when the public already has the option not to re-elect those officials every four years.
The issue about term limits would likely be divided into separate questions for each elected position. With Linke opposed, Cimino and Manguso gave direction to staff to draft the ballot questions.
County Attorney Chris Leahy questioned whether it is the appropriate time for this because it is an off year, which typically sees lower voter participation. Commissioners took this into consideration but still seemed inclined to move forward with the term-limit questions.
Commissioners have not officially placed any questions on the 2021 ballot yet. The hard deadline for getting an ask on the ballot is Sept. 3, according to the county clerk.
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