Photo by John F. Russell
Joyce Folley visits with election judges Louise Haslem, from right, Beth Sundberg and Judy Copeland while casting her vote at Hayden Town Hall during a special election Tuesday. Voters were asked whether they accept the home rule charter.
Hayden Hayden will become Colorado's 100th home rule municipality.
Voters approved the town's home rule charter Tuesday, 76 to 52. The change from statutory to home rule allows the Town Board of Trustees to decide whether to put new taxes before voters. Town Manager Russ Martin said his staff members planned to revise the board agenda to discuss options Thursday. If trustees choose to propose taxes, those could be on the ballot as soon as November.
"We will move forward with a couple different taxes on specific items that have hopefully a limited or no effect on Hayden residents," Martin said.
Those include a possible 3.5 percent tax on lodging and car rentals, he said. Although Hayden doesn't have a hotel or motel, it could in the future. The Colorado Taxpayer's Bill of Rights requires that voters decide on new taxes.
Martin said he understood that some people wouldn't like the idea of having tourists pay more taxes.
"I think it still puts Steamboat at a reasonable competitive position as far as a resort experience and what it's costing," he said.
Martin also noted that other towns and cities use a car-rental tax to increase revenue.
"I didn't stop going to places I've been because of the car-rental tax," he said.
The 128 votes cast Tuesday represent 13 percent of the 991 people registered to vote in Hayden. Eighty people voted in the March election that set the nine-member Charter Commission.
That commission consisted of Hayden School District Superintendent Greg Rockhold, the chairman; Vice Chairman Bill Irvine; Secretary James Folley; Gordon Dowling; Trustee Richard "Festus" Hagins; Mayor Lorraine Johnson; James Lewis; Bryan Strickland; and Hayden High School Principal Troy Zabel.
Folley's wife, Joyce Folley, was among voters Tuesday.
"In reading everything, I think we're going to have more of a say in what happens in town than when the state regulates it," she said.
Under statutory rule, Hayden is governed by state statutes. Home rule allows it to create a charter for its own governance.
According to the document, "This Charter shall become effective immediately upon its filing and recording with the Colorado Secretary of State" after a majority of votes in favor of it. Town Clerk Susan Irvine said she probably would mail the charter to the state today but wasn't sure when it would be filed and recorded.
Martin said he was encouraged by the turnout and the outcome.
"We've made some progress in people's understanding or desire to vote," he said.
The town manager stressed that the Town Board, which will become the Town Council when the state officially accepts the charter, could not increase taxes on its own.
"They'll just approve the ordinance to be placed on the ballot in the general election," Martin said.