Aspen Times endorsement: Vote ‘yes’ on three of four city questions
The city of Aspen has four ballot measures — mostly housekeeping-type issues — before voters this fall. The Aspen Times takes the following positions on each measure:
• Ballot question 2B relates to the city’s broadband authority. A vote for this measure would give the city local control on whether it wants to bring in other internet service providers, opting out of a 2005 state Senate bill that forbids governments from competing with the private sector over broadband service. It’s essentially the same measure that Pitkin County voters approved last November by a landslide 5,013 to 427 votes. The Aspen Times supports a “yes” vote on question 2B.
• Ballot question 2C is an amendment to the city’s charter, granting the City Council the authority to approve the hiring of both the city’s chief of police and community development director. We think this is a knee-jerk reaction to last year’s drama in the Community Development Department. It politicizes two positions more than they have been traditionally, and we don’t think that’s a good thing. Also, amending the city’s charter means it would require another vote to change it back. The City Council should be involved in policymaking — that’s what the people have elected them to do.
The city shouldn’t amend its charter as a reaction to one specific problem. The Aspen Times asks residents to vote “no” on question 2C.
• Ballot issue 2D extends the city’s existing 0.3 percent sales tax for educational purposes. We think the Aspen School District is a responsible steward of taxpayer dollars and, especially for that reason, we’d be hard-pressed to find a reason not to support local education. Vote “yes” on 2D.
• Ballot issue 2E, an extension of the Wheeler Real Estate Transfer Tax of 0.5 percent through 2039, would continue to raise revenue that is essential to the operations of the city’s historic Wheeler Opera House. The venue is a valuable community asset, and those who operate it have been good stewards of the property and the Wheeler’s budget. Without the real estate transfer tax for the Wheeler, which generated $5.4 million, the historic venue wouldn’t be financially equipped to make upgrades or remodels to this community treasure. We urge residents to vote “yes” on issue 2E.
The Aspen Times editorial board is comprised of Publisher Samantha Johnston, Editor Lauren Glendenning, Managing Editor Rick Carroll, and Aspen residents Bob Braudis and Kathryn Koch.
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