Don’t vote based on fear and disinformation. These are the facts.
* The vote on Jan 15 is to begin the home-rule process, NOT to decide if Salida will become a home-rule city. That happens at the end of the process after the charter is written and reviewed by city residents.
* The commission will have 180 days to write a charter if the Jan. 15 vote gives the authority to move forward with the process.
* The process is guided by state statue, which specifies what the charter can cover and requires public input.
* The charter does NOT override state laws. Sunshine Laws and Tabor still must be followed, so the city still cannot raise taxes without a vote of approval. However, the charter can change the size and composition of the districts taxed.
* At the end of the process, voters will study the charter and vote next summer on whether to accept or reject the charter. If the charter is voted down, the commission returns to address the concerns of citizens and there is a second vote. If the charter fails to be accepted on the second vote, the home-rule process is dead and the city remains statutory.
* The cost of the process is between $22,000 and $26,000, not $50,000 to $75,000. This is based on costs to cities similar in size to Salida.
* All cities in Colorado stated out as statutory cities governed by state statues. All statutory cities follow the same statues, whether they are small, rural, mountain communities or large metropolitan cities. It is a “one-size-fits-all” approach. Home rule became an option so that cities with different needs could have regulations that better fit those unique needs. No city that has become a home-rule city has ever gone back. There are procedures to revise the charter as well as to cancel the charter.
* If there is not a statue addressing a specific issue, a statutory city cannot deal with that issue. For example, most everyone wanted a motel tax that was a percentage of the nightly fee charged, but state statue only allows a set amount to be collected, whether the room is a $20- or a $120-per-night room.
* The charter can address the structure of government and processes for making decisions.
If you believe that more transparency is needed, that can be written into the charter by developing processes that require transparency. A system of checks and balances can also be written into the charter.
* If the city remains under state statues, the city government can continue to make the kinds of decisions it has made in the past and in the same manner.
* Most importantly, voters have complete control over this process. The City Council and the mayor have no say in what goes into the charter or its approval.