Eagle voters will decide future uses for open space bed tax dollars
Ryan Summerlin February 27, 2014
Back in 1996, Eagle voters approved a $2 per room per night lodging tax with proceeds earmarked for open space acquisition.
In April, residents will decide whether those open space dollars can also be used for other improvements for the town’s open space lands and trails system.
The original open space ballot question specified that proceeds from the lodging occupation tax would be used exclusively for acquisition, maintenance and management of lands for open space, wildife habitat and wetland preservation. Eagle’s ballot question on April 1 will specify that lodging occupation dollars can also be applied to “construction and maintenance of soft path recreation trails connecting to the existing Eagle area trails system and the construction of facilities which will serve open space users such as restrooms, parking areas and other physical improvements which improve the quality of the user’s experience when utilizing town open space and adjacent lands.”
Eagle Mayor Yuri Kostick has been a vocal proponent of the plan to tap the open space fund as a source for overall improvements to the town’s trail system.
He noted that last year, Eagle used open space dollars to partner with property owner Ric Newman and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management to construct the Haymaker trail. Kostick said that while members of the Eagle Town Board supported spending open space dollars on trail building, given the 1996 ballot question language, members were leery of using those dollars for improvements such as trailhead parking areas or restrooms. That’s what prompted the April 1 ballot question.
“We don’t think that we are changing the spring of the open space funding as approved by the voters,” said Kostick. He characterized the ballot question as more of a housekeeping item.
“I think we are giving the people what they have said they want.”
The open space lodging occpation tax generates approximately $100,000 annually. Tuesday night, the Eagle Town Board unanimously passed the resolution to take the proposal to the voters.
Town Board race
In addition to the open space question, Eagle voters will decide a town board contest. As of Tuesday, five candidates had filed paperwork to seek one of the three seats up for election.
Candidates for Eagle Town Board on April 1 will include former members Paul Witt, Stephen Richards and Kraige Kinney as well as newcomers Gladdie Funke and Luis Benitez. That field could swell because the deadline for filing a petition is Friday, Feb. 28 at 5 p.m.
Candidate nomination petitions are available for pick-up at the Eagle Town Clerk’s office at 200 Broadway. Potential candidates must collect 10 signatures from registered voters who reside within the town limits.
Gypsum Town Council
A week after Eagle voters go to the polls, Gypsum voters will elect a mayor and three town council members.Nomination petitions are available from Gypsum Town Clerk Dannette Schlegel and potential candidates must collect 20 signatures from registered Gypsum voters. Petitions must be turned in by 5 p.m. Wednesday, March 19. The town election is Tuesday April 8. To date, no completed petitions have been returned in Gypsum.
Polling Place voting
In both Eagle and Gypsum, voters who have become accustomed to perusing their ballots from the comfort of their living rooms won’t have that convenience.
Due to changes in Colorado election law, the permanent mail-in voter designation has been discontinued and both the town of Eagle and the town of Gypsum will be conducting polling place elections in April. Ballots will not be automatically mailed out for the upcoming municipal elections but voters can request an absentee ballot which can either be mailed to a voter or filled out at the respective Eagle or Gypsum town offices.
Eagle Town Clerk Sarah Braucht said Eagle residents can request an absentee ballot be mailed and requests can be submitted now. Ballots will be mailed once they are received from the printer in mid March. Walk-in absentee voting will begin on Monday, March 17 and will continue through Friday, March 28. No early voting can take place after close of business on Friday, March 28 and remaining voters must cast their ballot in person on Tuesday, April 1. The polling place is located at the Eagle Town Hall at 200 Broadway and the polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Election Day.
To request an absentee ballot, a voter must fill out an absentee voter application. The application can be found at the town’s website at www.townofeagle.org or by visiting town hall. Anyone who is not already a registered voter, must register by Friday, March 7 to participate in the election. Voter registration can be completed at the Eagle County Clerk and Recorder’s Office located at 500 Broadway in Eagle or at www.GoVoteColorado.com
Any questions regarding Eagle candidates and the Eagle municipal election can be directed to Braucht at firstname.lastname@example.org or 970-328-9623.
Any questions regarding Gypsum candidates and the Gypsum municipal election can be directed to Town Clerk Dannette Schlegel at 970-524-7514.