Ballot initiatives get air time at forum

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As candidates debated issues in front of an audience of about 100 at Monday evening's forum at Centennial Mall, representatives of three local ballot initiatives weighed in on their respective measures.

City of Craig charter

City manager Jim Ferree said the city's charter is 50 years old and needs updating in the language and references to new laws.

A committee, led by Pam Foster, reviewed the current charter and proposed changes, which must be approved by voters Nov. 7.

Ferree said the committee based its suggestions on a national model and other recently amended charters.

Among the changes proposed to the charter are:

  • Campaign expense limits will be raised from $250 to $500.
  • Maximum fines and imprisonment for municipal court will be raised to 180 days and $1,000.
  • The office of city manager will be officially established.
  • Salaries of the mayor and city council may be established by ordinance, but not until the next round of elections after approval of the measure.

Ferree said the proposed changes to the city charter can be viewed at the city's Web site, http://e-gov.ci.craig.co.us/.

Colorado Northwestern Community College

Gene Bilodeau, dean of Colorado Northwestern Community College's Craig campus, spoke Monday about the college's request for an extension to its existing mill levy.

The college currently receives 3 mills. The 10-year mill levy is set to expire in three years. The college is asking voters to approve an extension that would last indefinitely.

Property owners -- residential and agriculture -- currently pay $23.88 per year for each $100,000 assessed value. Business owners pay $87 per year for each $100,000 assessed value.

Bilodeau said the money from the mill levy stays in Moffat County, bringing programs such as paralegal, cosmetology, nursing and power plant technology to Craig. He said mill levy dollars account for one-third of the college's budget.

"Without that money, the services we offer would have been very greatly diminished," Bilodeau said.

If the mill levy does not pass, Bilodeau said that's what's going to happen -- the college will stay open, but programs and offerings may be cut.

Craig Rural Fire Protection District

Fire Chief Chris Nichols said Craig Rural Fire Protection District's third request for an increased mill levy is the most polished one yet.

Despite two unsuccessful requests in the past, the district is asking for a 1 1/2 mill increase on Nov. 7. An approved mill levy would raise about $350,000 per year. The 10-year capital improvement plan calls for about $3.25 million in equipment expenditures.

Residential and agriculture property owners currently pay $15.90 annually per $100,000 assessed value and would pay $27.86 annually if the fire mill levy were approved.

Business owners' taxes would increase from $57.92 to $101.42 a year per $100,000 assessed value.

Nichols said this request is different from the two previous ones because the district now understands voters' priorities and is educating the public about its proposal.

Nichols said this request does not include a training center, as it has in years past.

He said providing the department with equipment it needs will keep homeowners' insurance premiums low.

Both Nichols and Ferree urged voters to go to the end of the ballot when they get into the booth on Nov. 7, because that's where the three local issues are listed.

For a complete listing of ballot initiatives, visit the Moffat County Clerk and Recorder's Office in the Moffat County Courthouse, 221 W. Victory Way.

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