Our View: Voters still have time, resources

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City of Steamboat Springs registered voters this week will begin to receive their mail-in ballots for Referendum A, an election to approve or deny the annexation of Steamboat 700. There’s no doubt it’s one of the most significant and contentious issue elections we’ve seen in decades.

We hope voter turnout in the mail-only election reflects the importance of the decision and the tremendous interest many residents have in the future of our community. Similarly, we urge residents to make time to educate themselves about Steamboat 700 and the annexation agreement. Regardless of where you stand on the issue, every voter will benefit from reading the annexation agreement and what it encompasses.

This Editorial Board previously urged voters to inform themselves about Steamboat 700. In the weeks since, the Pilot & Today has reported on many Steamboat 700-related issues, including traffic, wastewater, capital projects and phasing, attainable and affordable housing, likely property taxes for Steamboat 700 residents, and more. Those articles will continue in the next couple of weeks as voters fill out their ballots.

We recognize that a lot of this reading material is dense and convoluted, but we think every voter should take the time and make the effort to become fully informed. Only a full understanding of the issues will allow each of us to make an informed decision based on the facts.

Last week, the Pilot & Today also began a five-week series of opinion pieces from Let’s Vote and Good For Steamboat, the issue committees that oppose and support the annexation. Adjacent to this editorial you will see both groups’ pieces detailing water issues related to Steamboat 700. Importantly, the newspaper is following up on the op-ed submissions with “fact check” articles that analyze claims made by both sides. Those articles should help voters sort though the spin.

All of the Pilot & Today’s published Steamboat 700 articles are available online at www.steamboatpilot.com/steamboat700. The Web page also includes all of the documents associated with the annexation, from the latest version of the annexation agreement to the many attachments and studies that touch on Steamboat 700-related topics.

On Wednesday, this newspaper will publish a voters guide to the Steamboat 700 annexation agreement. Researched and compiled by Pilot & Today reporters, the guide aims to provide voters a concise and accurate summary of what the annexation agreement says and doesn’t say.

For voters who’d like to hear the annexation issues debated by the groups supporting and opposing it, the Pilot & Today and Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association have organized a community forum scheduled from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Olympian Hall at Howelsen Hill. The forum, featuring representatives from Let’s Vote and Good For Steamboat, will be moderated by professional mediator and Steamboat Springs resident Cathleen Neelan. Coverage of the forum will be published in the Steamboat Today and online at www.steamboatpilot.com.

Steamboat Springs voters are being bombarded with a lot of information from all sides related to Steamboat 700. It can be intimidating to wade through it all and separate fact from fiction. But doing so will help each of us make an informed decision about how to manage the future of our community.

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