Sarah Smith Hymes, Tamra Underwood seek reimbursement in Avon recall expenses
Amount would bring total expenses incurred by the town throughout the recall process to over $100,000
Following the failed recall of Avon Mayor Sarah Smith Hymes and council member Tamra Underwood in November’s election, both are now requesting reimbursement for expenses incurred throughout the recall.
Avon Town Council will vote on an ordinance that authorizes the reimbursement of qualifying expenses at its meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 11.
Should the Town Council approve the ordinance, it would reimburse Smith Hymes for $5,500.53 and Underwood for $5,941.35.
Colorado state statute — specifically Colorado Revised Statute §31-4-504.5 — allows municipalities to repay any incumbent who is subject to a recall and not recalled. The statute holds that the municipality can “repay the incumbent for any money actually expended as expenses of such election.”
Per the statute, authorized expenses include “moneys spent in challenging the sufficiency of the recall petition and in presenting to the voters the official position of the incumbent, to include campaign literature and advertising and the maintaining of a campaign headquarters.”
According to a report in the Town Council meeting’s packet — which was prepared by the town’s interim legal representation, Karp Neu Hanlon — the expenses submitted by both Smith Hymes and Underwood qualify under this statute.
A memo attached to the report shows the expenses submitted by both Smith Hymes and Underwood. The expenses listed were incurred between August 2020 and November 2021.
For Smith Hymes, this includes legal expenses totaling $4,097.50 regarding the sufficiency of her recall position. The legal expenses are dated for October, November and December 2020 as well as for February and July 2021. She also has an expense of $60 for stamps to send information about her “official position” within the recall in October 2021.
Underwood’s memo also includes legal expenses totaling $4,097.50 regarding the sufficiency of her recall position. These expenses are dated for November 2020, January 2021, April 2021 and August 2021. Underwood has additional expenses for supporting her campaign including just over $34 for an Avon voter list from the Eagle County Clerk for sending literature in September 2021, just under $24 for a domain name, $37.50 for a campaign video clip as well as an additional $100 to the Eagle County Clerk in October 2021 for “’who has voted’ report service for voter follow-up.”
Both Smith Hymes and Underwood have a shared balance of $1,343.03 for “design and production of campaign literature and website.” Underwood’s memo has an additional shared balance of $305.24 listed for campaign website updates, but this amount does not show on Smith Hymes’ memo.
All of these expenses were incurred throughout the lengthy recall process that occurred from August 2020 to the election on Nov. 2, 2021. It was an expensive recall process for all involved.
In a previous report prepared by Town Manager Eric Heil and included in the Sept. 28, 2021, Town Council packet, it was estimated that the town had spent just over $90,000 throughout the recall process. Broken down, this number included $80,010.68 spent at that date in legal expenses on the recall, as well as an estimated $10,000 to $15,000 of staff time, and an expected $10,000 for the Nov. 2 coordinated election.
Members of the Avon Recall Committee have also previously reported significant costs incurred throughout the process.
The committee also previously filed a motion with the District Court on Aug. 2, 2021, requesting the town pay attorney fees. In this motion, it stated that through June 30, 2021, “the committee reasonably and necessarily incurred $62,821 in attorney fees in response to the Town’s filing of this groundless action.”
District Court Judge Russell Granger denied this motion on Aug. 31, 2021. The judge’s order read that, “Since the Court finds that the case did not lack substantial justification or was interposed for delay, the Motion for Attorney’s Fees is denied.”
At the Sept. 14 Town Council meeting, Todd Roehr with the recall committee said the “bill is now about $90,000” for members of the committee.
At its Tuesday, Jan. 11, Town Council meeting, the Avon Town Council will vote on the ordinance, either authorizing or denying the reimbursement of Smith Hymes’ and Underwood’s recall election expenses.
The first reading of the ordinance is scheduled for 5:20 p.m. at the meeting. The meeting will be hosted virtually via Zoom, due to the recent spike of COVID-19. Members of the public can register for the meeting at Avon.org.
Reporter Ali Longwell can be reached at email@example.com.