Thornton voters to decide on six questions

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Voters in Thornton have six municipal questions to vote on during the Nov. 5 election — including asking voters to approve extending the Parks and Open Space Tax by 20 years and increasing council member term limits to three consecutive terms.

Here is a closer look at those questions:

Term limit extension

Voters will be asked to extend council term limits from two consecutive terms to three — for a total of 12 years.

“The City Council has discussed that experienced leadership is an important factor in carrying out the long-term plans of the city, and in addition that three consecutive terms will be consistent with terms of offices of other county-wide elected officials,” said City Attorney Margaret Emerich during council’s Aug. 13 regular meeting.

Thornton voters rejected by 75.3 percent a similar extension question in 2005. In 2009, voters did approve three term limits for Adams County elected officials, including commissioners, sheriff, assessor, clerk and recorder, coroner, surveyor and treasurer.

Parks and Open Space Tax extension

Another extension voters are asked to approve is the Parks and Open Space Tax by 20 years. 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.

“The city’s ability to continue to provide adequate parks and recreational facilities in the future is tied to the quarter cent or 25 cents on $100 purchase that the tax provides,” said Mike Soderberg, executive director of community services.

He said since the inception of the tax, which was originally passed in 1997, the city has invested $56,561,721 for various parks, trails, open spaces and amenities.

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; land acquisition for open space throughout the city and miles of trails.

“If the tax is extended from 2018 to 2038 it will generate from $6 million up to $10 million per year depending on the growth within the community,” Soderberg said.

25 to 21 age limit

One of the questions deals with lowering the minimum age to qualify to serve as mayor or council member from 25 to 21.

“The purpose of this would be to allow more participation by younger residents in our community if they were elected to city council,” Emerich said.

Thornton resident Seth Thomas, 21, is spearheading the campaign to get the measure passed.

“I feel if you can serve your country at age 18 sometimes age 17 with parent permission, you should be able to run for elected office at age 21,” he said. “By allowing a change to our Charter, we as the sixth largest city of the state are telling our community that it is OK to allow new fresh ideas to come forward to our council’s dais.”

Filling mayoral vacancies

Voters will also be asked to approve charter language that, in the event of a mayoral vacancy, the mayor pro tem becomes acting mayor until the next regular election. This means that council would operate with only eight members, but it saves the city the cost of holding a special election.

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.

Continuity of government

There will be a question that, 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, which could include an enemy-caused disaster or weather-related event.

Firefighter definition

The last question deals with the definition of fire fighter in the city’s charter. If approved, the charter would be amended to define fire fighter as regular sworn fire fighters up to and including the rank of lieutenant and regular emergency medical technicians who are not supervisors whose primary duties are to provide emergency medical or fire suppression services.