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City ballot issues meeting fails to draw an audience

by Eric Mullens
WALSENBURG — Whether it was a case of voter apathy, election season burn out, a constituency who has made up their minds or competition from a Bronco’s game; the Walsenburg City Council played to just a handful of citizens during a work session Monday night scheduled to present the city’s General Election ballot issues to the public.
Attending the meeting for the city were council members Nick Vigil, Erin Jerant, Rick Jennings, Silvana Lind, Mayor Larry Patrick, city clerk Wanda Britt and interim administrator Dave Johnston. Councilman James Baca and Mayor Pro Tem Craig Lessar did not attend.
Only five residents attended the 45-minute long meeting.
The city has three items on the November ballot:
• Issue 2A, which, if approved by voters, would increase the city mill levy to 18.5470 from the current level of 11.758, which were set in 1995. According to the brochure provided by the city, the increase could provide an additional $177,753 in revenue.
This measure would provide Walsenburg with additional revenue, while not exceeding the historic mill levy set in 1995.
The city has been financially stressed for several years, which has resulted in empoyee layoffs. Conversely, manpower costs have risen.
• Measure 2B, if approved, would transfer two-thirds of currently assessed and collected revenues received annually from the capital improvement portion of the city sales tax to the water and sewer enterprise funds to be used only for replacement or repair of aging infrastructure.
Water and sewer lines in Walsenburg are aging and breaking. The cost to repair these lines grows every year.
This measure will not increase any existing tax and will not create a new tax.
• Appointed Offices: if passed by voters this item would allow for the positions of city clerk and city treasurer to become appointed, not elected positions.
These two city positions have, over the years, become de facto appointed positions, due to the public’s lack of interest in seeking elections.
Certification for these positions requires approximately six years. Being able to appoint a trained person, rather than re-certifying a new clerk or treasurer will allow the city to keep a trained individual in that position, as well as being able to impose job reuirements on that position.
Mayor Patrick said the brochure was authored by city attorney Dan Hyatt and the information presented is the same the city provided to the state for inclusion in the ‘Blue Book’ voter’s guide.