City begins counting signatures

City begins counting signatures

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In two brown accordion envelopes, two of the members of the petitioner's committee attempting to force impact fees to a vote handed over the petitions to the city on Thursday morning.

Thursday's exchange marked the end of a two-week frantic signature-gathering period for the petitioners and the beginning of a period of counting and verifying for the city clerk's office.

"I definitely feel good that the petitions are in the city's hands. I feel comfortable that the city and the clerk will do a fair count. I think the ones who feel best, though, are the 50 or so people who were out there collecting petitions," said Norbert Turek, one of the original five members on the petitioner's committee.

As Turek left, one city employee asked where she could still sign the petition.

Turek and four other Steamboat residents decided on June 29 to attempt to force the city's impact-fee ordinance to an election.

The City Council was able to pass impact fees, which cost $4,454 for a single-family detached home, by a unanimous vote of the council on June 19. The money from the fees will go toward growth-related capital projects.

Beyond the implications of a jump in the cost of residential and commercial development, the fees were seen by some as a way to circumvent the voters and still get the money the city wants.

"I just don't like voting by fiat," Turek said.

The city and various residents countered the criticisms with arguments that the city had been subsidizing developers by not charging them for the capital needs they generated with new developments.

City Clerk Julie Jordan-Struble said the petitioners needed 1,600 signatures 20 percent of the number of registered voters in the last municipal election from registered voters to force the issue to a vote.

The city's home rule charter establishes the 20 percent figure, though the Colorado Constitution asks for 10 percent. If the city goes by the state constitution, the petitioners would need about 800 signatures a number closer to their estimates of how many they got.

City Attorney Tony Lettunich said he thinks the city's charter takes precedence over the constitution in this case, though he could not find other case law on the matter in Colorado.

"It's 20 percent until somebody tells us otherwise," Lettunich said.

After the clerk's office verifies and counts all the signatures, the group may have 10 more days to get more signatures, though neither the city attorney nor the deputy city clerk were sure of the circumstances that would allow for that extra time.

"I definitely feel good that the petitions are in the city's hands. I feel comfortable that the city and the clerk will do a fair count. I think the ones who feel best, though, are the 50 or so people who were out there collecting petitions," said Norbert Turek, one of the original five members on the petitioner's committee.

As Turek left, one city employee asked where she could still sign the petition.

Turek and four other Steamboat residents decided on June 29 to attempt to force the city's impact-fee ordinance to an election.

The City Council was able to pass impact fees, which cost $4,454 for a single-family detached home, by a unanimous vote of the council on June 19. The money from the fees will go toward growth-related capital projects.

Beyond the implications of a jump in the cost of residential and commercial development, the fees were seen by some as a way to circumvent the voters and still get the money the city wants.

"I just don't like voting by fiat," Turek said.

The city and various residents countered the criticisms with arguments that the city had been subsidizing developers by not charging them for the capital needs they generated with new developments.

City Clerk Julie Jordan-Struble said the petitioners needed 1,600 signatures 20 percent of the number of registered voters in the last municipal election from registered voters to force the issue to a vote.

The city's home rule charter establishes the 20 percent figure, though the Colorado Constitution asks for 10 percent. If the city goes by the state constitution, the petitioners would need about 800 signatures a number closer to their estimates of how many they got.

City Attorney Tony Lettunich said he thinks the city's charter takes precedence over the constitution in this case, though he could not find other case law on the matter in Colorado.

"It's 20 percent until somebody tells us otherwise," Lettunich said.

After the clerk's office verifies and counts all the signatures, the group may have 10 more days to get more signatures, though neither the city attorney nor the deputy city clerk were sure of the circumstances that would allow for that extra time.

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