Basalt’s home-rule plan hasn’t stoked citizens yet | AspenTimes.com

Basalt’s home-rule plan hasn’t stoked citizens yet

A proposal to change Basalt’s style of government must spark interest among citizens this week or face postponement, according to town officials.

The Town Council wants to establish what is known as a “home-rule” style of government. To accomplish that, a commission must be formed to write a home-rule charter.

The commission has to be elected, so the town has scheduled a special election May 21.

Nine members are needed on the commission, but so far only five citizens have taken out petitions. Town manager Tom Baker said he started making telephone calls Friday to citizens to encourage them to serve.

If the recruitment isn’t successful, the election will have to be postponed, Baker said.

The Basalt town government has been successful on several occasions over the past two years drawing citizen interest on civic matters. For example, citizens headed the effort last November to earn approval for a town property tax increase to buy open space. Citizens have also worked for the past year to come up with a river master plan that will dictate riverside development, floor control and preservation of open space.

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But for whatever reason, the home rule charter commission just isn’t clicking with people.

“People didn’t understand the nuances of the charter commission,” Baker said.

Citizens active in civic affairs know the town wants to change the style of government, he said. They just didn’t realize that an elected commission must write the charter.

Once a commission is seated, it will have 120 days to write a charter – a detailed description of the governmental make-up and its powers.

The commission will determine such weighty issues as how many members serve on the council – five, seven or nine – and how the mayor is selected – by popular vote or by the council, Baker said.

The home-rule style of government is favored by the council because it gives more control to citizens. The function of a statutory government, which Basalt is now, is defined by the state constitution.

Aspen, Snowmass Village and Glenwood Springs all switched to home rule governing. Carbondale is considering the switch.

Baker said Basalt’s home rule charter commission would meet once a week, on average, during June, July and August. Their charter proposal will be forwarded to voters in November.

Citizens who want to serve on the commission need to take out a petition from Town Hall, 101 Midland Ave. Petitions must be signed by 25 registered Basalt voters and returned to Town Hall by 5 p.m. Friday.

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