Basalt voters OK home rule, retain council term limits | AspenTimes.com

Basalt voters OK home rule, retain council term limits

Basalt voters overwhelmingly approved switching to a home rule style of government Tuesday but soundly rejected eliminating term limits.

Adoption of home rule was passed by 608 to 210 votes, or a margin of 74 to 26 percent.

“I’m glad. I think it was a no-brainer,” said Basalt Town Councilwoman Jacque Whitsitt.

She first proposed switching from a statutory government to home rule. Statutory governments’ powers are dictated by the state Legislature. Home rule is crafted by the municipality.

Proponents of the switch touted that autonomy and ability to craft government powers. “It gives us much more freedom to act,” said Basalt Town Councilwoman Anne Freedman, a home rule supporter.

A proposal to eliminate term limits fell 466 to 351, or 57 to 43 percent.

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Retention of term limits means the political careers of three prominent Town Council members will end in April 2004, at least in their current positions. Mayor Rick Stevens will be prohibited from seeking re-election, as will council members Leroy Duroux and Whitsitt. Whitsitt and Duroux could run for mayor in 2004, and Stevens could run for council.

Term limits were approved by voters throughout Colorado in November 1994. Basalt residents voted in April 1996 to keep term limits in place in the town. Term limit proponents argued that the issue shouldn’t be raised again. That may have played a role in the outcome in this election, said Freedman, a term limit foe.

Approval of the charter won’t mean much to the town right off the bat, but it sets the table for significant changes at a later date.

The new charter takes effect Jan. 1. It will change the official name of the governing body of elected officials from board of trustees to Town Council and the town administrator will become the town manager.

As a home rule town, Basalt’s elected officials will be able to place a wider array of tax proposals before the voters. For example, the Town Council could ask voters to increase the sales tax or establish a lodging tax to raise revenues for specific causes. Neither option was possible for Basalt as a statutory government.

[Scott Condon’s e-mail address is scondon@aspentimes.com]