Thornton: Council eyes four ballot questions

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The city of Thornton is considering placing four questions on the November ballot — and one may include asking voters to approve extending council member term limits to three consecutive terms.

City council discussed the questions during its June 4 planning session and gave staff the go ahead to write up the language so it could formally vote on them at a future meeting.

Of the four questions, Mayor Heidi Williams described the term limit extension as more political in nature.

Council members can serve two consecutive terms of four years. The extension, if passed, would allow them to serve three consecutive term limits for a total of 12 years.

Thornton voters rejected by 75.3 percent a similar extension question in 2005.

In 2009, voters approved three term limits for Adams County elected officials, including commissioners, sheriff, assessor, clerk and recorder, coroner, surveyor and treasurer.

“We want to be sure the city is aligned with the county and is able to make decisions for long-term planning,” Williams said. “The majority of council is hopeful it’ll pass, so we’re going to go forward and see what the voters say.”

Council is also considering asking voters to extend the Parks and Open Space Tax. The 0.25 percent city sales and use tax rate (25 cents on $100 purchase) expires Dec. 31, 2018, and the city would like to push that back until Dec. 31, 2038.

Williams said voters are generally agreeable to parks and open space funding and that council was confident the ballot measure will pass.

“It’s important to the city because it is what funds all our parks and recreation,” she said.

According to a staff memo to council, “Staff estimates the extension of the tax will generate $163.5 million in revenue between 2018 and 2038. To date, the city has spent $56,561,721 of Parks and Open Space funding.”

Some projects funded by the tax include the improvements such as a boathouse, carousel, amphitheater, a skate park and a sports complex area at the Margaret Carpenter Park; the design and construction of Lambertson Lakes Park; and land acquisition for open space throughout the city.

The last two questions deal with the city’s charter and are what Williams described as nonissues.

Council will ask voters to approve charter language that, in the event of a mayoral vacancy, the mayor pro team becomes acting mayor and council elects a new acting mayor pro team to serve until the next scheduled election. This means that council would only have eight members until the next regular election, and after that the acting mayor and acting mayor pro team would return to their previous positions on council.

This method of filling the mayoral position eliminates the need for an expensive special election, Williams said. Council has had to deal with mayoral vacancies twice in recent years — in January 2007 when Mayor Noel Busck resigned so he could assume his elected position on the Regional Transportation District Board of Directors and in January 2011 when Mayor Erik Hansen resigned to assume his new role as county commissioner.

The last question, if approved, would add a continuity of government provision to the city charter in the event that a quorum of council is not able to meet during an emergency.

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