Hayden starts home rule talks

Charter Commission aims to dig into issues Monday night

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— Hayden's Home Rule Charter Commission plans to start molding a charter in earnest Monday night.

Seven of the nine members rolled through plans, logistics and elections at their first meeting Wednesday. Voters elected the panel March 31 to create a home-rule charter for the town. Town Manager Russ Martin led the group through the selection of leaders and a possible schedule.

Hayden schools Superintendent Greg Rockhold, who was unable to attend the meeting, was elected chairman. Bill Irvine was elected vice chairman, and James Folley was elected secretary.

The group meets next at 7 p.m. Monday. That's part of a schedule Martin called "aggressive." He'd like to have a draft in May, a public hearing in early June and a document delivered to the Town Board of Trustees by June 18. If the board approves the charter, residents could cast ballots this summer.

"It's a tight schedule, but I hope it doesn't feel rushed," Martin said.

The crunch is necessary because of the taxing possibilities that come from switching to home rule. Hayden is a statutory town, which means it is governed by Colorado statutes. A home-rule town is allowed more taxing flexibility. If voters OK a charter by Aug. 4, the Town Board could put proposed new taxes on the November ballot.

Any new tax still would require Hayden voters' approval.

"We will not pass any taxes, we will not raise and lower any taxes" in the home-rule charter, Martin said.

Commission member Bryan Strickland said he was interested in taxation possibilities.

"That's my whole gist of all this," Strickland said. "If it's going to bring revenue for the town of Hayden : that's what we have to have."

Commission member Gordon Dowling promoted a conservative view. The town should cut residents a break when it pulls in profits, he suggested.

"What worries me is we don't want the town to make money," Dowling said. "We want the town to be balanced, have reserve."

The Home Rule Charter Commission will hash out such questions at 7 p.m. Mondays at Hayden Town Hall, 178 W. Jefferson Ave. Martin provided a list of issues a home-rule charter could address, and the group probably will tackle dozens at each meeting. Monday's discussion could include town council membership, the mayor's duties, elections and referendums.

"I don't think we want to change the world here, but you do have a lot of options out there," Martin said.

Also present Wednesday were commission members Gordon Dowling, Mayor Lorraine Johnson, James Lewis and town Trustee Richard "Festus" Hagins. Troy Zabel, principal at Hayden High School, was unable to attend.

Commission members lamented a lack of participation from residents. Only nine people ran for the nine spots, and no residents attended Wednesday's discussion. But the meetings are open to the public, and the document will be presented for public comment, as well as the public vote.

"This is a participatory government, and hopefully some will," Martin said.

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