Home rule commission starts work on charter | VailDaily.com

Home rule commission starts work on charter

Scott N. Miller

EAGLE COUNTY – Now it’s time to work.After a handful of preliminary meetings, the Eagle County Charter Commission has hired a lawyer and set up a meeting schedule. Sometime this spring, the group will hold a series of public meetings about a proposed new charter for the county. If the charter is finished in time, it will go to voters this fall.Time is growing short to have an early version of that charter ready for public review.”I think by the end of April it has to be written,” said commission member Dave Mott of Wolcott. That’s a tight, but attainable deadline, Mott said.”But there’s a wide variety of opinion on the board,” he said. Mott said many board members like the idea of expanding the board of county commissioners from three to five members. But from that idea come a host of other questions, such as how to elect commissioners, and whether or not to eliminate partisan elections. Those questions have some on the commission looking for a little extra guidance.”I’m still lobbying for a poll,” said commission member Kara Heide of Edwards. “I believe our role is to execute the wishes of the county. Our obligation is to provide as many mechanisms as possible for public input.”Commission member Kathy Chandler Henry of Eagle is also pushing for a poll. But that idea doesn’t have support from the entire committee just yet.”Any public awareness and input is great,” commission chairman Don Cohen said. But, he added, it may be too soon to ask locals about a subject they may not know much about.”Polling may be useful for high level details, like the number of commissioners,” Cohen said. But ultimately, he said, the commission has to write a charter and put it on the ballot.While an 11-member board won’t reach unanimous decisions very often, commission members were quick to praise each other’s willingness to listen.”It’s been a healthy, open debate,” said Mott, a former county commissioner.”Everyone seems to have an open mind,” Chandler Henry added. “It’s a good group, and we’re really getting down to business.”=================Five questions:What’s home rule? A government-reform program that could include expanding the board of county commissioners, and turning some now-elected offices into appointed jobs.Who’s working on it? An 11-member commission elected last fall.What are they doing? The commission will write a new charter for the county.Do we get to vote on it? Yes, either in a special election or in the November general election.What’s this costing us? The high estimate for the commission’s work is $160,000.Meetings are: The first and third Thursday of every month, from 2 to 6 p.m. at the Eagle County Administration Building, 500 Broadway in Eagle. The next meeting is Thursday.================Staff Writer Scott N. Miller can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14624, or smiller@vaildaily.com.Vail Daily, Vail Colorado

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