Johnson gets 4th Hayden Town Council seat |

Johnson gets 4th Hayden Town Council seat

Outcome of school district’s property tax increase still uncertain

Pam Gann

— Barring any changes to the unofficial election results, Lor­raine Johnson won the fourth and final seat up for election on the Hayden Town Council. The fate of the Hayden School’s District’s Referendum 3B is far less certain.

After the results were posted at about 2:30 a.m. Wednesday, there was some doubt about who would take the fourth Town Council seat with the final four candidates separated by only 35 votes. There was even more doubt about the property tax increase Referendum 3B because just 50.7 percent of voters favored the measure, a 14-vote difference.

Routt County Clerk and Recorder Kay Weinland said Wednesday that provisional ballots and unsigned mail ballots still were uncounted. Ballots are provisional if they were provided because there was an issue with a voter, such as going to the wrong polling location.

Weinland said 16 provisional ballots could affect the Town Council race, but Johnson has an 18-vote edge on council member Tom Rogalski, the next closest. She also said 27 provisional ballots in the voter districts that constitute the Hayden School District had not yet been counted.

She couldn’t say how many unsigned ballots could affect the Hayden election outcomes.

“I obviously was hoping it wouldn’t be this close,” Hayden Superintendent Mike Luppes said Wednesday. “We knew any tax initiative right now, there was going to be a pretty solid split between yeses and noes. … With that having been said, we felt like the schools in the position they’re in, we felt we had to put that issue out in the public.”

The tax increase would provide an additional $321,473 annually for the district for four years. Luppes said it would assist the district with future expected budget cuts.

During the Citizens for Referendum 3B’s informational campaign about why the district was asking voters for a property tax increase, Luppes said he never heard from residents dissatisfied with the district’s spending. The group sent mailers to every address and post office box in Hayden, went door-to-door, made telephone calls and gave presentations to town groups.

“I just think it’s the entire economic situation,” Luppes said. “It’s a new tax, that type of thing. We knew it would be a tough sell.”

Weinland said her office would count provisional ballots Nov. 15. She said the election would be certified Nov. 17 and 18.

Council vote

After being told Tuesday night that she was the likely winner for the fourth Hayden Town Council seat, Johnson said she was pleased that she would get to see some projects finished, such as making the water and sewer funds self-sustaining.

“I’m glad they did,” Johnson, the current mayor, said about those who voted for her. “It says at least they like the direction that I’ve helped lead the town.”

Rogalski, who has served one four-year term on the council, said he had been looking forward to tweaking the town’s charter and getting the new town manager on the right track. Hayden has offered the position to a candidate and is scheduled to review the town manager employment agreement during executive session of tonight’s Town Council meeting.

“I feel there’s plenty left to do, and it would be great to have the opportunity to continue to serve,” Rogalski said.

Johnson will serve a two-year term, which will complete the term vacated by Trace Musgrave, who was elected in 2008. Tim Red­­mond was appointed to fill that seat in February 2009.

Redmond, Dallas Robinson and Jim Haskins were the top three vote getters. They, with Chuck Grobe, who ran uncontested for mayor, will join Richard “Festus” Hagins and Bill Hayden on the Town Council.

The new Town Council members were scheduled to be sworn in tonight. Hayden Town Clerk Susan Irvine said Wednesday that they wouldn’t be sworn until December, after Weinland certified the elected.

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