Ballots cast on local, regional questions
Vail residents will fill four open seats on the Town Council. Eagle County voters will replace the outgoing school board president and decide whether to continue a school district tax increase to pay for bus space, technological upgrades and building repairs.Across Colorado, voters will decide whether to let the state go deeper into debt to build new reservoirs. Statewide voters will also decide if video lottery games should be allowed to raise money for tourism promotion.Vail votesThree incumbents and five challengers are vying for four open seats on the board that’s Vail’s highest authority. Potentiallly an entirely new majority could be elected. Councilman Chuck Ogilby is stepping down after one term, guaranteeing there will be at least one new face on the council when today’s smoke clears.Councilmen Bill Jewitt, Greg Moffet and Rod Slifer are all trying to keep their seats. Jewitt, 55, a co-owner of Bart & Yeti’s bar in Lionshead, will be completing his first two-year term; Moffet, 45, who owns an advertising company, has served four years. Slifer, 69, has lived in Vail since the early 1960s and is the senior partner in Slifer, Smith & Frampton Real Estate. He has already served 12 years on the council. Slifer was mayor from 1977 to 1984.The challengers are:- Mark Gordon, 40, foreman at Vail Resorts Communication Center.- Kent Logan, 59, retired investor/art collector.- Dave McDougall, 27, barman.- Paul Rondeau, 69, retired IBM employee.- Kim Ruotolo, 35, a reservations manager at Tivoli Lodge.The top four vote getters will win seats on the council, but the candidate who finishes fourth in Tuesday’s voting will serve a two-year term.School choicesThe only race for an Eagle County school board seat is between Vern Brock and Mary Ann Stavney, who want to represent Eagle.Brock, who has three kids in county schools, is a graduate of Eagle Valley High School and works as Eagle’s town engineer. Stavney is a former Eagle County teacher who now works with the Literacy Project as a tutor and coordinator. She said she plans to strengthen communications between parents and teachers to get everyone more involved in schools.The school district is seeking a property tax increase to make room for about a dozen school buses.There’s no more parking buses at locations throughout the valley, said Karen Strakbein, financial director for the Eagle County School District. If approved, funds will also go toward technology upgrades and small maintenance problems the school district couldn’t fix because of low funds, such as painting and replacing lockers in schools.Water warsPerhaps the most controversial question on the ballot is Referendum A, which is supported by Gov. Bill Owens and would allow the state to issue up to $2 billion in bonds to build or upgrade reservoirs and other water-storage facilities.Proponents say the extra spending powers, which could put the state $4 billion into debt, are critical to ensure Colorado has water in the future. Opponents, primarily from the Western Slope, say the measure will allow Front Range cities to plunder mountain water. They have blasted Referendum A because it doesn’t require mountain communities to be compensated if their water is diverted to the Front Range.Eagle County Commissioner Tom is one of the lone supporters of Referendum A on the Western Slope.”Our State legislature has failed us,” he said. “Referendum A is a step in the right direction.”A strong supporter of Referendum A is state Sen. Jack Taylor, a fellow Republican based in Steamboat Springs who represents Eagle County. Taylor is concerned with the makeup of the Colorado Water Conservation Board, which would pick projects and have significant control over the funds.”There has been a concerted effort to change the makeup of the Water Conservation Board,” he said. “If it is changed, we’ll see less and less rural representation. If the Water Board has to please the governor, that will further politicize the matter.”The Colorado River Water Conservation District also has a measure on the ballot. Referendum 4A proposes freezing the rate of property tax at current levels. That tax now costs the owner of a $500,000 home $6 per year. If the state’s biennial reassessment of property results in higher property values, the district would generate additional money with the same tax rate. In the past, property values have had a history of increasing.The district would then use the money generated to purchase water, rehabilitate existing reservoirs and to increase the efficiency of leaky water delivery systems.Gambling on tourismMore controversial than Referendum A is Amendment 33, which would allow video lottery terminals in the state’s Front Range horse and dog racing tracks. Portions of the money earned by the machines – aside from operating fees and profits for owners of the terminals – would fund tourism promotion and open space purchases.Taylor, who led the effort to put Amendment 33 on the ballot, has said the measure is the only way to ensure the state has money to promote itself.Colorado now ranks 22nd in state tourism promotion, and according to one consulting firm is losing out on $2.4 billion in tourism dollars annually.If passed, the machines will generate up to $86 million for a variety of interests, including $25 million for tourism promotion. Last year, Hawaii spent $77 million promoting tourism while Colorado spent less than $30 million, according to Taylor.”This helps fund tourism and it helps the state of Colorado and its small communities by bringing in more people, not less,” Taylor said.Stone, a staunch opponent, said similar proposals have failed in the past.”We’ve seen this movie before,” Stone has said. “It just doesn’t make sense.”Property taxesAlso prominent on the ballot is Amendment 32, which would change the state’s property tax structure by freezing the residential rate at 8 percent, beginning with 2005 property taxes. Currently, the assessed valuation is 7.96 percent of the property’s actual value.The initiative would also repeal the Gallagher Amendment, which maintains a constant ratio of taxable property values between residential and all other property.Polling CentersThe polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.- Precinct #1Red Cliff Town Hall400 Pine Street- Precincts #2, 12, 13 & 14Donovan Park Pavilion1600 S. Frontage Rd.Vail- Precinct #3Minturn Town Hall302 Pine Street- Precincts #4 & 22Edwards Elementary School0122 Meile Lane- Precincts #5 & 16Eagle County Building500 Broadway- Precincts #6 & 9Gypsum Town Hall0050 Lundgren Boulevard- Precinct #10Burns Baptist Church22545 Colorado River Road- Precinct #11McCoy Community Center26 McCoy Road- Precinct #15 & 19Avon Municipal Building400 Benchmark Road- Precinct #17 & 18Eagle-Vail Pavilion538 Eagle Road- Precinct #20 and 21Singletree Community Center1010 Berry Creek RoadEdwards- Precinct #23Eagle Baptist Church14600 U.S. Highway 6Head: Voters must bring ID to the pollsDeck: Requirements also in place for absentee ballotsDate: 10/15/03Staff ReportWord Count: 252PHOTO: “voting requirements 10/15” in WEDS PHOTOSThere are specific requirements for the types of identification Eagle County residents must provide to vote – either in person or by mail – in the Nov. 4 election.Voting in personResidents voting in person must bring one of the following forms of ID:- Valid Colorado driver’s license – Valid Colorado state ID card – Valid U.S. passport – Valid FAA pilot’s license – Valid U.S. military identificationIn the case of the following five, the address on the document must be a Colorado address:- Utility bill – Bank statement – Government check – Paycheck – Other government documentVoting by MailIdentification is required only for first-time voters who registered to vote by mail after January 1, 2003 and did not provide a valid Colorado driver’s license number, Colorado state ID number or the last four digits of their Social Security Number.A person can either provide a copy of the acceptable types of identification when registering by mail, or they can provide the number – which will be verified by by the Country Clerk’s Office. The acceptable forms of ID include the following:- Valid Colorado driver’s license – Valid Colorado state ID card – Valid U.S. passport – Valid FAA pilot’s license – Valid U.S. military ID- Utility bill – Bank statement – Government check – Paycheck – Other government documentProvisional ballotsAnyone who votes in person or by mail and does not meet the ID requirements will be allowed to cast a provisional ballot. Provisional ballots may be counted after the election if the election official can confirm the voter’s eligibility. Vail Daily reporters Christine Ina Casillas, Cliff Thompson, Veronica Whitney and Stephen Lloyd Wood contributed to this report.