Our election recommendations | AspenTimes.com

Our election recommendations

Over the past three weeks we have been running endorsements about what we feel are the most important issues on the Nov. 4 ballot in the Aspen Times Weekly and our daily edition. Following is a recap of our recent endorsements, and a rundown of other state and local issues in Tuesday’s election.

We will make our endorsements for the Aspen school board in Friday’s daily newspaper, after we hear the candidates speak in Wednesday’s Squirm Night debate. Deadlines for the Aspen Times Weekly don’t allow for those endorsements to appear here.

State Referendum A

If passed, this question would in essence give the governor and the Colorado Water Conservation Board a blank check for $2 million to build and expand water storage projects around the state ” most likely in the mountain region.

The ballot language is vague and the proposal would diminish local input on any projects in specific areas. Many have labeled this a “water grab” by the Front Range, and there’s nothing in the language to convince us otherwise.

Vote no on Referendum A.

Conservation District Referendum 4A

Without raising property taxes, this de-Brucing measure would give the Colorado River Water Conservation District more money to carry out its mission of protecting and developing Western Slope water. If approved, Referendum 4A will freeze the district’s property tax mill levy at 0.250 mills, and allow the district to keep grant money that it cannot currently accept.

At a time when thirsty Front Range suburbs are seeking any way to divert Western Slope water, this could help keep Western Slope water where it belongs.

Vote yes on Referendum 4A.

Basalt Library District Referendums 4B and 4C

These are the controversial Basalt library questions, both of which seek property tax increases. Referendum 4B would raise $875,000 to operate and maintain library facilities, and 4C would permit the district to borrow $5.1 million to build a new library in El Jebel, and refurbish and expand the existing library in Basalt.

There are strong arguments on both sides of this expensive proposal. However, we feel it makes sense to beef up Basalt’s tiny library and build a 16,000-square-foot new library in El Jebel, where the district is seeing the most population growth.

Vote yes on Referendums 4B and 4C.

Basalt Referendum 2A

This proposed 2 percent lodging tax appears harmless enough at first glance. It’s a modest rate that won’t cause overnight guests too much pain, and could provide about $12,000 to improve Basalt’s parks and trails and bolster special events and marketing by the Basalt Chamber.

However, if Basalt someday sees the additional hotels it expects, then this measure could actually raise a significant amount of money. The ballot language is too vague ” “for purposes of supporting a chamber of commerce in Basalt” ” and we’re not convinced that overnight guests should have to pay for parks and trails.

The Town Council, which placed Referendum 2A on the ballot, needs to think this one through more carefully.

Vote no on Referendum 2A.

Aspen Referendum 2E

This question, if approved, would allow the city to buy the Mother Lode property next to the Wheeler Opera House for $3.25 million, using existing cash from the Wheeler real estate transfer tax.

Opponents say the money shouldn’t be spent without a plan for the property, but the city may never have another chance to own such a key downtown building.

With proper planning, the Mother Lode parcel and the city-owned lot next door could provide space for a performing arts center, an expanded Wheeler or some other valuable public facility. If no plan fits the bill, then the land could be resold at no loss to the city. This is a gamble worth taking.

Vote yes on Referendum 2E.

Aspen Referendum 2B

This housekeeping measure would clear up some conflicts between the city charter and state statutes regarding citizen-initiated ballot proposals. Referendum 2B retains the city’s steeper requirements for citizen petitions, but incorporates portions of state law for consistency.

Vote yes on Referendum 2B.

Aspen Referendum 2C

This measure would renew for 20 years the city’s franchise with Holy Cross Energy, which provides power to residents not served by Aspen’s municipal utility.

If approved, it would reinstate the 3 percent franchise fee paid by Holy Cross, which helps the city buy wind-generated power for its customers. The agreement would also allow the city to provide electricity for up to 500 new housing units outside its present service area ” a move that would allow the proposed Burlingame Ranch project to use the city’s predominantly renewable power.

Vote yes on Referendum 2C

Colorado Amendment 32

The Gallagher Amendment to the Colorado State Constitution has placed the state in a fiscal bind that this amendment seeks to resolve, at least in part.

The idea of Gallagher is to hold down residential property taxes, but it has inadvertently forced the state’s general fund to pay for a growing share of public education ” the single biggest item in the state budget.

By fixing residential property tax rates at 8 percent, Amendment 32 will mean higher property taxes for those with rising property values. However, it will ease a state budget crisis that has already affected most state departments, and threatens to impact funding for public schools.

Vote yes on Amendment 32.

Colorado Amendment 33

At first this measure sounded like a good way to start promoting Colorado again, something the state used to do well and must do again. But the more we looked at Amendment 33, the less we liked it. Fundamentally, it’s a backdoor tax that burdens a group of perceived sinners (gamblers) to fund a statewide need.

Placing new souped-up slot machines in areas where gambling is presently allowed doesn’t bother us, but using those machines to fund tourism promotion and open space is just poor tax policy. Make the tax fit the use of the revenue.

Vote no on Amendment 33.

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Aspen and Snowmass Village make the Aspen Times’ work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.


Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User