Hayden delays charter plans

Draft not likely for next week

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— Hayden's home rule process might take longer than expected.

The first draft of the charter is going through lawyers, Town Manager Russ Martin said, and they've suggested changes and deletions. At a public hearing Wednesday evening, Martin told the Hayden Home Rule Charter Commission that he wanted members to have time to absorb the changes. Three residents attended the hearing to express concerns and make requests.

Martin wanted the commission to submit the draft charter to the Town Board of Trustees on June 4. He's changed his mind.

"I don't think so because of the rearranging," Martin said. "I don't want anyone to think there were things going on behind the curtain. : If that takes another couple weeks, it's that important, and I'm OK with that."

The changes aren't major but involve removing redundancies, as well as at least one section that isn't allowed under the Colorado Constitution. The commission had set rules for how people could petition for referendums.

"The initiative referendum process, recall process, those are all constitutional," Martin said. "And as a result of them all being constitutional, we really can't monkey with them."

The commission has one issue to revisit: eminent domain. Commission members have said they don't want the town to have free reign to condemn property for development purposes. Under statutes and the draft charter, Hayden trustees can do so.

The nine-member panel will talk through that issue at a meeting at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Hayden Town Hall.

The purpose of Wednesday's meeting was to give the public an opportunity to comment on the draft. Town Trustee Bill Hayden and residents Joyce Folley and Donna Hellyer attended.

"I want to publicly thank each and every one of you for the dedicated service you've done to help us obtain a town charter," Hayden said.

He said he'd received little feedback but wanted to give the community more information about precisely what switching to home rule would do.

"We have to tell them what the attributes are, and I hope the minuses are few," Hayden said.

Hayden residents elected the Charter Commission in March to pursue a switch 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, for example. The Taxpayer Bill of Rights still applies, and voters would have to approve any new or increased taxes.

They would have to approve a charter for it to take effect.

Joyce Folley, of the Hayden Chamber of Commerce, asked the commission whether flexibility was possible in Hayden's voting structure. She wanted to know whether people who own businesses in Hayden but live outside town could be allowed to vote on issues affecting them.

"If they have post office boxes, ZIP codes of 81639 and call Hayden their home, they ought to be included in the voting process of what's going on in Hayden," Folley said.

The town can't change voting structure except to create a taxing district for a specific purpose, such as a business improvement district, Martin said.

He offered explanations to Hayden and Hellyer, who also wanted to know what the risks and benefits of home rule were.

"Why you don't want to do this is because you would overly restrict yourself from doing something you would be able to do under state statute, period," Martin said.

He pointed to the eminent domain discussion. People might be opposed to restricting eminent domain because such restrictions could have negative effects in the future. The same limit is also an asset of home rule, Martin said.

"That is also a good reason why you do home rule is to restrict yourselves from doing something your town doesn't want to do," he said - such as using eminent domain for development purposes.

Regardless, the town wouldn't be tying itself to anything permanent, he said.

"The beauty is that you can change the charter," Martin said.

He also noted that if voters approved the charter, election dates would move from April to November. That would extend town trustees' terms by about six months.

Martin said he hoped to give copies of the revised draft to the Charter Commission next week.

The panel consists 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.

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