Winners in Snowmass race to have plenty on their plate
Nothing about Snowmass Village politics has been easy lately, and that trend will continue with the upcoming election. For close to four years, the Town Council has been saturated with its review of the highly contentious Base Village application. A vote on the project is expected in late October, just days before residents elect a new mayor and two council members.Four candidates, Arnie Mordkin, Sara Sparhawk, John Wilkinson and Rick Griffin, are running for the two open council positions. Councilman Doug Mercatoris is running unopposed for mayor.Unless someone suddenly throws their hat into the race, Mercatoris will become mayor, meaning his seat on council will open up. In that likely scenario, the newly formed Town Council has two options to fill Mercatoris vacated seat: appoint either the candidate who finished third in the election or someone else. The latter option would involve an application process, which any Snowmass Village citizen could enter. The council then votes to choose one of the applicants. It will be a two-year position, since Mercatoris is a midterm councilman. Mordkin has served four years and is running again, while Sparhawk, Wilkinson and Griffin are all newcomers to the political scene. Former council candidate Scott Calliham decided to pull out in support of Sparhawk and Griffin. Bill Boineau serves on the current council and isnt facing re-election.Major issuesWhile the final vote on Base Village will occur under the current council, the new council will have its hands full in the coming years assuming the project is approved. Construction is expected to last until at least 2011, and mitigating construction impacts may become a major council focus. Other issues facing the council include a number of potential developments and projects, including the Snowmass Center, the entryway master plan, revitalization of the Snowmass Village mall and West Village, and the site of the new town hall. Two financial questions will also be posed to voters.Question 2B may be a bit confusing, as its tax specific to real estate purchases, and normal taxes will not be affected. Furthermore, it is an existing tax that would simply be extended. What the question is basically asking is whether citizens of Snowmass Village want to continue to tax real estate purchases to fund a variety of the towns capital costs, such as transportation, landscaping, trails and some roads.2B states: Shall town of Snowmass Village taxes be increased by $2,481,181 annually by extending in perpetuity the existing land transfer tax imposed by ordinance No. 5, series of 1986, and shall the uses of the funds derived from such tax be amended to add, in addition to existing uses, all parks and recreation costs and transportation operating and maintenance costs for vehicles and rolling stock, and shall the town be permitted to collect and spend the revenues from such land transfer tax without regard to the limitations of Article X, Section 20 of the Colorado Constitution?As for the second question, 2C, it basically just says that any revenues that the town receives through these or additional sales taxes … we continue to get to retain it and spend it on town services, explained Marianne Rakowski, Snowmass Villages finance director. It doesnt allow us to increase taxes without going to the voter, it doesnt allow us to change tax rates, nor to change the way that we have to deal with the mill levy.2C states: Shall the town of Snowmass Village be permitted to collect, retain and expend, without increasing any tax rate or imposing any new tax, as a voter-approved revenue change under Article X, Section 20 of the Colorado Constitution all revenues received by the town annually in 2004 and any year thereafter from all sources?What is also significant about this issue is that fees can be collected from future developments, including Base Village. In addition to a sales tax, any fees we get from new developments key if say Base Village were to get passed wed be able to continue to collect and retain those fees we receive for our services, Rakowski said. The election will take place Tuesday, Nov. 2. The polls will be located at the Snowmass Chapel & Community Center, located at 5307 Owl Creek Road in Snowmass Village. Steve Bensons e-mail address is email@example.com
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