Hayden’s home-rule vote set for Tuesday | SteamboatToday.com

Hayden’s home-rule vote set for Tuesday

Residents will choose governing option

To vote

Hayden's home-rule Charter Commission election is 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday at Hayden Town Hall, 178 W. Jefferson Ave. Take a photo ID.

— Hayden voters will decide Tuesday whether to push ahead with a switch from statutory to home rule.

The town is scheduled to vote on whether to form a Charter Commission to write a home-rule charter. If that question is approved, voters also will elect nine commission members. Only nine people are running. There are pros and cons to going to home rule, but most town officials said they support the switch.

Hayden is a statutory town, which means it is governed by state statutes. Becoming a home-rule municipality would allow the town more flexibility in taxing and holding elections, for example. Steamboat Springs and Craig are home-rule communities.

Kathleen Sickles is the town administrator for Cedaredge, about an hour southeast of Grand Junction. The town switched to home rule last year. Voters approved a Charter Commission in April and approved the charter in November. The commission did a great deal of research about statutory and home rule, which Sickles applauded.

One of the challenges was explaining what it means to go to home rule, she said. Two outspoken people were particularly concerned about what the charter would do. One woman was concerned about its reach, Sickles said.

“I think her fears were that home rule was more than what the state allows,” she said, “and the home-rule commission went on not a defensive but trying to make sure they were educated in her fears of what home rule was and what home rule was not.”

The second person owned a business in town and wanted to be able to vote on town issues, she said.

“You can do things based on state statute, but you can’t conflict with state statute,” Sickles said. “I guess the state has times a businessperson can vote on items and times they cannot, and our charter does not overrule that.”

Cedaredge’s charter was approved 685 to 484, she said. It’s 29 pages from the table of contents to the end, and the Charter Commission worked on it every Monday for about three months.

If voters give the go-ahead, nine people in Hayden will set to work on the town’s document. Gordon Dowling, James Folley, Town Trustee Richard “Festus” Hagins, Bill Irvine, Mayor Lorraine Johnson, James Lewis, Hayden School District Superintendent Greg Rockhold, Bryan Strickland and Hayden High School Principal Troy Zabel are running for the Charter Commission.

The commission would draft the charter. Voters and the Town Board of Trustees would have to approve the document before it could be adopted.

Hayden has 980 registered voters, Town Clerk Susan Irvine said. That’s about 100 more than were registered in the town’s 2006 election, she said.

According to a handbook by the Colorado Municipal League, home rule has advantages and disadvantages.

“Primary advantages of home rule include greater local control and greater flexibility,” the handbook states. “These advantages reduce the need for state-enabling legislation, provide protection against interference from the state, and enable the citizens of the home rule municipality to choose organization and structure, powers, functions, procedures and limitations different from those set forth in state laws for statutory municipalities.”

Sometimes the town creates problems for itself, the document states.

“Primary disadvantages include the possibility of a bad charter or charter provisions that defeat the advantages of home rule or make operating worse than under state laws; and the effort and expense needed to adopt, amend and operate under a charter, particularly for some smaller municipalities,” it states.

Sickles said she hadn’t gotten much public feedback on Cedaredge’s product. She regretted the lack of discussion.

“I guess my biggest wish was I wish there was more people involved in coming to the home-rule Charter Commission meetings,” Sickles said. “They were open to the public. We did all we could to notify the public, just a lot of people didn’t show up.”

– To reach Blythe Terrell, call 871-4234 or e-mail bterrell@steamboatpilot.com

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