Support bill allowing out-of-state property owners to vote in special district elections (letter)
Editor’s note: HB 18-1181 will be considered by the Senate State, Veterans & Military Affairs Committee on Wednesday, April 18.
Dear Ms. Driscoll: We are writing in support of Colorado HB 18-1181. The bill would authorize directors of special districts in Colorado to enable out-of-state owners of Colorado real estate to vote for directors in special-district elections. On Wednesday, April 11, the Colorado House voted 46-7 to approve the bill and sent it to the Senate for consideration.
Eagle County has more than 35 special districts. Out-of-state property owners make up a large percentage of the owners of residential properties in some special districts. The final passage of this bill will improve governance in special districts, better represent all owners, including the many visitors to Colorado, and may enhance property values. The key reasons for this bill are:
• To honor the principle of “no taxation without representation” and increase the dialogue on important local matters with out-of-state property owners.
• Out-of-state taxpayers would be better represented on boards of directors.
• Authorizes appointment of an “ex-officio,” non-voting board member to represent out-of-state property owners.
Nine states provide limited voting rights to out-of-state property owners and, in limited cases, this right already exists in Colorado. Special districts make up 2,252 of 3,800 units of local government in Colorado.
According to the Colorado Department of Local Affairs:
“Special districts in Colorado are local governments, i.e., political subdivisions of the state, … (that) are created to fill the gaps that may exist in the services counties provide and the services the residents may desire …”
The bill only applies to special districts that “opt in” to apply the broadened voting rights to only “natural persons” that are out-of-state property owners. An out-of-state property owner must ask to receive a ballot and complete an “affirmation” of his or her right to vote. Property owners that are not “natural persons” in special districts may not vote. The bill will not permit out-of-state voters to vote for bond or tax referenda.
Several citizens, including two of the undersigned, testified in favor of the bill. The bill will now be presented to the Colorado Senate for consideration. The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Larry Liston, believes the bill will receive favorable consideration and may be signed into law in 2018. The Special District Association of Colorado did not object to the proposed legislation.
We encourage support for and passage of HB 18-1181.
Ken Marchetti, Gypsum
David Warner, Eagle-Vail
Judd Watts, Eagle-Vail