Eagle voters to decide town’s future Tuesday
Election will decide whether town keeps $600K tobacco tax, adopts home rule, who serves on Town Board
- To study Eagle’s proposed home rule charter, go to the town’s website,
- To read Town Board candidates’ views on local issues, go to the Vail Daily's website.
- In the Town Board’s virtual meeting last week, the board decided that since it’s a mail-in ballot election and there will be little or no personal contact, Tuesday’s election would go ahead as scheduled.
EAGLE — Eagle’s future will pivot toward money and flexibility, or stick with the status quo, depending on how Tuesday’s municipal election goes.
Eagle voters will:
- Decide whether to keep hundreds of thousands of dollars annually generated in Eagle by the countywide tobacco tax or to let Eagle County keep it.
- Decide whether to change the town government’s structure to home rule,
- Elect a new Town Board. Three of the board’s six seats are open. Scott Turnipseed is running unopposed for mayor.
Eagle’s proposed home rule charter does not give anyone the authority to raise your taxes without your permission, says the chairman of the town’s home rule charter commission.
“It’s still subject to the TABOR Amendment. Any new tax or an increase in a current tax would require voter approval, Brent McFall said.
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For now, Eagle is one of Colorado’s few statutory towns. That means it operates under the thumb of state government.
A home rule charter is essentially a constitution for the town, outlining the powers and authorities the town’s voters grant to its municipal government.
According to the Colorado Municipal League, it’s the most common form of municipal form of city government. Of Colorado’s 271 cities and towns, 101 are home rule. Those 101 home rule communities are home to more than 90% of Colorado’s town residents.
“If you look across the state the vast majority of cities and towns of any size are governed by a home rule charter. It’s not the boogie man people want you to think it is,” McFall said.
Some Eagle residents say the 34-page charter lacks specifics, and that it would give the town board and town managers too much authority. McFall counters that the commission that wrote the charter is seven Eagle residents with widely varied backgrounds, that they were all elected, and that the commission did its work in public. He said the charter provides more flexibility and allows local decisions to be made locally.
Keep $600,000 or not?
Eagle voters will decide whether their town keeps $600,000 a year from the county’s tobacco tax, or if the county gets to keep Eagle’s share.
The countywide tobacco tax is a reprise of the county’s marijuana tax, Eagle town board members say.
Last November Eagle County voters imposed a $4 per pack tax on cigarettes and $40% on all other tobacco and nicotine products. In 2017, countywide voters passed a marijuana tax to fund mental health and substance abuse programs. Eagle voters opted to keep the marijuana tax money instead of letting the county have it to spend on Eagle-specific programs.
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When a crowd of around 500 people showed up in Vail on Tuesday night to join a protest march in support of Black Lives Matter, the gathering plainly violated Eagle County’s current COVID-19 recommendations.