Steamboat 700 vote taking shape
Council, commissioners to address plans for city-run, mail-only election today
January 5, 2010
Steamboat Springs — City and county officials are finalizing details about the upcoming vote on the proposed Steamboat 700 annexation.
Running the election is the city's task, but an intergovernmental agreement will allow the Routt County Clerk and Recorder's Office, which has election experience and equipment, to tally votes in the mail-only election that concludes March 9. Routt County commissioners and the Steamboat Springs City Council are scheduled to address — and likely will approve — that agreement today. City Council also is scheduled to address today the mail ballot election plan submitted by City Clerk Julie Franklin.
The plan states that Feb. 8 is the last day for Steamboat Springs residents to register to vote in the election. As with other elections, voter registration is at the Clerk and Recorder's Office in the Routt County Courthouse in downtown Steamboat.
County Elections Supervisor Vicki Weber said Monday that voters should make sure their address is updated if they have moved or changed their mailing address. Voters can check their registration status at the county office or online, through the Clerk and Recorder's "Elections" link at http://www.co.routt.co.us, or through the Colorado Secretary of State's office at http://www.sos.state.co.us/pubs/elections.
Franklin said absentee ballot request forms are available at City Hall at 137 10th St. for residents who have a different address in the winter, for example. Mailed ballots will not be forwarded. Absentee ballot request forms also are available online through the city clerk's voter information link at http://steamboatsprings.net.
Ballots will be mailed to voters between Feb. 15 and 19. Voters can mail completed ballots to City Hall or drop them off at that location. City Hall will be the only drop-off location for ballots. Franklin said the city will borrow ballot drop-off boxes from the county to ensure security.
City Council attorney Tony Lettunich wrote in a document to the council that the cost of the election is estimated at $12,000. Steamboat 700 has agreed to pay for the election. About $8,500 of that cost, Lettunich wrote, will pay a third-party company to print, prepare and mail the ballots. Franklin said Monday that the city has not yet selected a vendor.
The intergovernmental agreement between the city and county includes a cost of $3,000 for the county's vote-counting services. Clerk and Recorder Kay Weinland said the county also will charge for staff time needed to process and tally votes.
Franklin noted another expense.
"The only other cost that isn't included in that (agreement) is we have to pay for election judges. … So I'm not sure of the total cost," she said.
City and county officials have a short timeframe to iron out those details and others. The intergovernmental agreement notes that "time is of the essence" and states that "the city agrees to indemnify and hold harmless the county clerk and Routt County from any and all loss, costs, demands, or actions, arising out of … any actions, errors or omissions of city in completing its (election) responsibilities."
"We just want to make sure the county's not liable if one of the deadlines isn't met," Weinland said Monday.
But Weinland expressed confidence in the city's ability to manage the election and said her office will have "a tremendous amount of communication" with Franklin's office throughout the process.
The Steamboat 700 vote is Franklin's first election.
"We just have to take it one step at a time," she said Monday. She said city legal assistant Lynn Donaldson will serve as chief election deputy. Franklin acknowledged the huge public interest in the Steamboat 700 proposal and said that her office will take every step possible to ensure the election's security and integrity.
"We want everybody to see that we're doing it fairly and impartially," she said.
Steamboat 700 proposes about 2,000 homes and 380,000 square feet of commercial space just west of the current city limits. City planning documents cite a 20- to 30-year timeframe for development.
The intergovernmental agreement states that there are 6,386 current, active voters in city limits. Routt County conducted its first mail-only election in the fall. In the weeks leading up to that election, many voters discovered a need to update or change their registered address. Weinland said that process should help the city this time around.
"After the last election, our voter list is a lot cleaner than it was," Weinland said.