Get ready for the city bond and charter elections
By Richard Dotson
President, Richardson Heights Neighborhood Association
We’re just a few days away from a city bond election and, for the first time in a long time, a massive referendum on amendments to the city charter.
|Election Day: Tuesday, Nov. 3,
7 a.m. – 7 p.m.Voting locations: Richardson Heights neighborhood: RISD Professional Development Center, 701 W. Belt Line Rd.Cottonwood Heights: Dover Elementary., 700 Dover Dr.Heights Park: Richardson Heights Elem., 101 N. Floyd Rd.Bond referendum information pageCity Charter Amendment information page
I’m going to focus this president’s message on what these mean to you –basically, why you should care.
I’m not going to advise you on how to vote. That’s your decision to make. What I am going to do is encourage you to look at the information packets , and if you don’t have those, use the links in the information box to the right.
The information pages will describe what is covered in the bond packages – such as street upgrades, traffic improvements, updates to public buildings. The costs are explained, and how the debt on the bonds will be covered. You will also get a list of all the charter amendments and a checklist that will help you in the voting booth.
So why should you care? Very simply, both of these will have long term impact on our community. The bond election has improvements that will affect our neighborhood. The charter amendments provide the guide for how our city is run.
Read on. If you don’t have the information packets, use the web links to the right. If you don’t have Internet access, there are more handouts at City Hall, 411 W. Arapaho.
Your vote really does count.
Bond election overview
If you don’t know how a bond election works, every few years the city asks its residents to approve the sale of bonds to pay for public works like street upgrades, city buildings, park improvements, and sidewalks. Our neighborhood has benefited directly from these in the past, such as the sidewalk repairs from the 2010 bond election, the bridge work on Dumont and Weatherred, and construction of Durham Park.
The city sells the bonds over a six year period in a manner that doesn’t raise taxes. Every year, the city staff proposes the list of projects that will be covered. If you look through the city’s bond information packet, you’ll see there are several projects around our community. Of course, the other projects outside of our neighborhood also have a benefit as we use other city services – like the traffic lights on the way to the grocery store.
Here’s a short list what the bond election has on the list for our neighborhood area:
Street renovation, 600-700 block of Scottsdale (there’s a typo on the city’s project map – the 700 block of Sherwood is not included in the list); Cottonwood Park playground redevelopment; Senior Center renovation on West Arapaho; Custer Road renovation between Arapaho and Campbell; improving and updating Belt Line Road lanes at Inge (just west of Central); flood prevention at Belt Line and Cottonwood Drive; adding study areas and other renovations to the Richardson Library.
These are just a few of the projects. The full six-year list of improvements cover all sections of the city. The cost totals $115 million.
City charter amendments
During the election you will also have time to vote on amendments to the City Charter. If you still have the overview the city sent, you want to keep the last page. It’s a checklist for you to keep track of how you want to vote for the various amendments. If you don’t have the checklist, you can download a copy from the information page.
Why is this important? Because there are 83 amendments to the charter. The checklist is your ticket to get through the vote quickly.
So why should you care about the City Charter election? Here are a couple of reasons to consider:
- The city has not reviewed the charter in its entirety in nearly 30 years. A lot can change in that time: state laws, municipal funding mechanisms can evolve or become outdated. This was long overdue, and helps ensure that the city is compliant with state and national laws and follows widely adopted best practices in municipal government.
- Clean up. When the voters successfully placed direct election of the mayor on the ballot in 2012, they did not include provisions for vacancies, nor did they consider the role of the mayor in relation to other council members (e.g., what special role do they have on the council, if any?). The amendments clear up these ambiguities, bring us in compliance with state laws and even clean up the charter grammatically.
- Another calls for the City Council to order a comprehensive review of the charter at least once every ten years. No more elections with 83 proposed amendments.
This is your city and your charter. You have a say in how it should be amended. Study up on the documentation and fill out your checklist.
See you at the polls.