Residency requirement for Basalt council heads to ballot
August 28, 2008
BASALT ” A person might actually have to live in Basalt for at least one year in order to serve on the Town Council in the future.
The town will ask Basalt voters in the November general election to clarify an ambiguity on residency requirements for people elected or appointed to the council.
The ambiguity in the town’s home-rule charter came to light last spring when Councilman Chris Seldin resigned to pursue another post, briefly moved from Basalt, then moved back to town and reapplied for the council seat when he didn’t get the other job.
Seldin interpreted the charter to require that a person seeking appointment only had to be a Basalt resident for 30 days. One section of the charter indicates that a person must only be a resident of Basalt at the time of election or appointment to the council. Another section indicates a 30-day residency requirement.
To further confuse matters, the town government had required candidates in elections and applicants for openings to live in town for one year to be eligible for a council seat. The town had always followed state law on the one-year residency requirement.
When Seldin applied for his old seat on the board, he questioned the town’s interpretation of the one-year residency requirement because of the ambiguity in the town’s home-rule charter. The council, on advice of Town Attorney Tom Smith, ruled in May there was no basis for the one-year residency requirement ” even if that was the intent of the town. (Seldin was appointed to the seat he had given up.)
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Basalt will now let voters settle the residency issue. The council voted 7-0 Tuesday night to place a question on the Nov. 4 ballot that specifically states that a candidate or applicant for a council seat or the mayor’s position must live in the town for 12 months prior to the date of election or appointment.
Mayor Leroy Duroux said the one-year requirement is what the home-rule charter commission had intended when the document was drafted and approved by voters a few years ago. Unfortunately, the wording of the document didn’t reflect that intent, he said. Seldin agreed that the town should follow state law and go with the one-year residency.
The question clearing up the residency snafu is the only one Basalt will place on the ballot this fall.