Steamboat Springs Former and current elected city officials are urging the City Council to slow down the Mount Werner water merger so voters can have more time to look over the agreement.
Former City Council President Bill Martin said Aug. 13 is too soon for voters to decide if the City's water and sewer department should consolidate with Mount Werner Water and Sanitation to form the Steamboat Springs Water Authority.
"It is the biggest issue to face this community in its 100-year history. Out west, water is everything. Water is synonymous with power," Martin said.
At tonight's meeting, the council will vote on the second reading of an ordinance that would take the merger question to the polls Aug. 13, the day of the primary election.
A week ago, Martin and his wife, Marcia, spoke before the council asking them to wait until the general election to vote on the issue. Bill Martin said the Aug. 13 date would not give residents enough time to read over and understand the 19-page agreement that would form the authority.
"(Eight) weeks is too short of time for citizens. The community needs to read and understand the proposed agreement. By setting it for Nov. 5, it gives an opportunity for citizens to understand the agreement," Martin said.
He also said the primary election would not draw the voters that the November election would.
The city would share the cost of the election with Routt County, where offices for assessor, treasurer, clerk and recorder, sheriff, coroner and surveyor are up for election.
Martin also said the oldest demographic is less likely to turn out for an election that has many uncontested candidates.
"The day of the primary is a very-low turnout. There are uncontested local elections and minimal incentives for voters to go to special election," he said.
Councilmen Steve Ivancie and Paul Strong shared similar reservations with Martin and voted against the June 11 resolution, setting Aug. 13 as the voting date.
"My main concern is voters in the primary election. It's very horribly attended," Ivancie said at the last City Council meeting.
To get the question on the Aug. 13 ballot, the city needs to approve the ordinance by tonight. The council is given some leeway in the decision because they could vote to take the question off the August ballot, and add it to the Nov. 5 ballot.
The district has said if the authority were approved Aug. 13, it would have enough time to dissolve by the end of the calendar year.
After that date, the district would have to resolve in 2003, which means a short reporting year and months of delay in consolidation.
Strong told the council he did not think dissolving during the 2003 calendar year would impose a great burden or cost on the district.
"As an accountant, the matter of what year is not so much as a matter of cost. The cost of not being able to get those efficiencies," Strong said. "To have it at a general election, there is more turnout and I don't see that it has a lot of harm."
Council members in favor of the Aug. 13 date said the efficiencies from the consolidation would be realized sooner if the district would be dissolved before the calendar year, and residents have had traditionally strong turnouts for special elections.
To reach Christine Metz call 871-4229 or e-mail email@example.com