Recreation district takes another step to reality

By Rudy Hemmann
The Surveyor

After a little more than one hour of discussion concerning the statutory requirements for the formation of a proposed special district which would govern a parks and recreation district for the Berthoud area, the trustees directed Trustee Jeff Hindman, who had been placed in charge of the effort, to form a citizen advisory committee to provide input into the process.

The aim of the committee would be to provide advice to the town board regarding aspects of the special district with the ultimate goal being placing a parks and recreation question on the November ballot.

By way of a memo addressed to the other trustees, Hindman offered a list of interests and walks of life from which to draw potential candidates for the committee. His list included trustees, a downtown business owner, a resident of the county, a community garden organizer, a Berthoud youth sports representative, a representative from the school system, and a youth representative, with the total number of individuals on the committee not to exceed 11. The board chose to advertise for volunteers that would form a pool from which the community members, county representatives and business owners would be drawn. The interested trustees are already self-selected, and Hindman stated he would contact Thompson School Board member David Levy to serve on the committee.

Two of the points which outline the statutory requirements of a special district came up during discussion. They were item three: Notice of service plan to the appropriate county (or counties) and the Colorado Department of Local Affairs (DOLA), and item number five, which deals with when TABOR elections may be held.

(A service plan is a lengthy document which outlines what a special district may and may not do, and the maximum amount that residents who own real property within the boundaries of the district may be taxed to support the district.)

There was disagreement whether a full-service plan could be put together in time for the November election, and if the service plan is not prepared in time to present to the “appropriate counties” for approval by the county commissioners the whole plan falls apart due to the restrictions of when TABOR elections may be held. According to a memo authored by Community Development Director Curt Freese, “Special districts have the option of holding TABOR issue elections during a state general election, a biennial local district election, or on the first Tuesday in November of odd numbered years. Districts may either coordinate or hold their own elections in November.”

Alan Pogue, an attorney who is versed in the formation of special districts, authored a memorandum dated May 20, 2016, in which he offered a tight timeline for getting a special district on the November ballot. He estimated the cost of the effort to be $50,000 to $60,000. Hindman requested Pogue be given direction to place a dollar value beside each timeline item to give town staff and the board some idea when the larger amounts of money need to be spent, and perhaps give the town an idea whether to go ahead with the project if it appears the plan cannot be fully implemented.

The trustees envision a process where Pogue’s efforts and the work of the committee run on parallel tracks until just before the November elections.