By Chris Mannara
At a meeting on May 5, the Pagosa Springs Town Council approved Ordinance 932 on second reading for a special election pertaining to a potential revision to the town’s home rule charter that applies to the newly formed Pagosa Springs Urban Renewal Authority (URA).
“This is just calling for a special election. It’s not that we’re necessarily in favor or against it at this point in time. There will be probably some further discussions along these lines at some point in time prior to the election,” Mayor Don Volger said during the meeting. “For now, it’s just whether we can have an election and whether everything was done properly.”
Town Clerk April Hessman explained that the special election would be held on July 14 as a mail-ballot election.
The petition proposing the change was circulated by local citizens and, according to Hessman, the proposed amendment to the home rule charter would require voter approval prior to the town council or URA using tax-increment financing (TIF) whenever the total TIF revenues are expected to exceed $1 million over the life of the project.
Hessman is also identified as the designated election official within the ordinance.
The town clerk’s office received a statement of intent to circulate the petition; that form was approved for circulation on Feb. 13. The petition also required 118 signatures, or 10 percent of the number of town electors registered to vote on Feb. 5, according to agenda documentation.
By March 31, the petition was returned with 173 total signatures, with Hessman certifying that 140 of those signatures were registered as town electors.
That petition was determined to be satisfactory on April 9, according to agenda documentation.
The cost for the special election is estimated to be about $5,000, Hessman explained.
“Pretty much any citizen and any resident of the town can come and apply to circulate a petition,” Hessman said.
Town Attorney Clay Buchner explained that the right of a citizen to bring forth a petition is constitutional.
“The town is going to back it 100 percent,” Buchner said of the process. “As far as what the council thinks of it substantively, that’s, of course, up to your personal opinion. But as far as voting for the ordinance to go to election, there’s really not a choice. It’s constitutionally protected.”
The motion to approve Ordinance 932 on second reading calling for a special election relating to the URA and TIF financing was approved via a unanimous vote of council.