Initiate home rule | AspenTimes.com

Initiate home rule

The voters of Basalt are being asked to make a very important decision this spring. By voting to create a commission to write a home rule charter, Basaltines can insure that they – and not the state legislature – will control the future of their town.

Currently Basalt is a “statutory” town, which means that its authority to act comes only from laws written in Denver. In contrast, home rule municipalities have the ability to write their own rules (subject of course to federal laws and state laws that apply to statewide matters) to better fit local conditions.

Home rule puts control in the hands of local voters. In November the voters will be asked to approve the charter produced by the commission they elected in May. If circumstances change in the future, voters will be able to amend that charter.

As a home rule municipality Basalt will have powers denied to it as a statutory town. For example, Basalt could create its own telecommunications utility to serve its citizens better and more cheaply than private companies. Basalt would also have the option of creating a lodging tax similar to Glenwood’s (a home rule municipality) to raise funds for economic development. However, the town trustees will not be able to enact any new taxes on their own. The Colorado constitution requires that all new taxes must be approved by a vote of the people. Home rule definitely is NOT a vote for higher taxes.

If I am elected to the charter writing commission, I would not approve making any drastic changes in the governing structure we now have. I support a charter that will keep the town government much as it is, but with the added local powers that home rule gives.

I urge you to vote to initiate the home rule process. In November the charter commission will come back to the voters to ask you to approve the charter they have written. Only with your approval will we join the vast majority of other Coloradans and live in a home rule town.

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Anne Freedman

Basalt