Yampa considers legal notice change to save money

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— At Yampa’s April 1 municipal election, voters will decide whether or not to allow the town to publish the titles of ordinances rather than their whole text in required legal notices.

“It’s an effort to save money for the town,” Town Clerk Janet Ray said. “Some of the ordinances that we have to presently put in the legal notices are quite lengthy and therefore quite expensive.”

As the Steamboat Pilot & Today is the newspaper of general circulation for Routt County, the town of Yampa currently publishes the full text of all ordinances in the paper’s legal notices. In addition to ordinances, there are a number of other items that governments are required to publish by state statutes, such as elections, certain hearings and selected financial information.

In 2013, Yampa spent about $2,035 on all published legal notices. According to newspaper records, Yampa published six ordinance notices in 2013 at a total cost of $1,502.66.

The town’s total budget for 2013 was $437,346, not accounting for use of reserves.

Yampa Mayor Tom Yackey said the town doesn’t have much money to work with and printing the titles of ordinances instead of the full text will save funds.

Ordinances still would be available in their full form at town offices, as required by Colorado Revised Statute 31-16-105. The same statute allows municipal governments to determine through an election to publish only the titles of ordinances to meet its requirements.

"At a fraction of Yampa's annual budget, publishing the text of proposed ordinances provides a permanent record of the town's business, and it alerts residents of important matters that may otherwise go unrecognized," Steamboat Pilot & Today Publisher Suzanne Schlicht said. "We understand that the town is trying to be thrifty, but hiding important matters from the public is a misdirected way to save money."

“We’re in the process of setting up a website,” Yackey said, adding that the full text of ordinances is planned to be on the site when it’s operational.

"Yampa may publish the text on its website, but I'd be willing to bet the town's website receives a fraction of the readership of Steamboat Pilot & Today's print and electronic editions," Schlicht said. "This is bad public policy, and I hope the town's residents will vote against it."

Yampa was awarded a $2,000 grant in 2013 for a website and budgeted an additional $2,000 of town funds. Some work on the site is done, Ray said, but it's not ready to launch. An additional $1,000 was budgeted for the site in 2014 to use if needed.

To reach Michael Schrantz, call 970-871-4206, email mschrantz@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @MLSchrantz

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