Spring is the time for regional special district elections

MetRec, CB Fire District, GCEA all holding elections

By Mark Reaman

A few special districts in the area are holding elections this spring and early summer. Among the elections open to eligible voters is the Gunnison County Metropolitan Recreation District (MetRec), which has five people running for three open seats on its board of directors. The Crested Butte Fire Protection District (CBFPD) had anticipated a contested election for three open seats on the board, but only incumbents submitted petitions so the fire district is asking voters to “De-Bruce” its mill levy so it can collect the money that comes with its full mill levy. The Gunnison County Electric Association (GCEA) is also holding an election — at least one seat in the North Valley has two candidates while two other districts have just one person running for the position.

MetRec 

Voters recently approved an additional tax in the North Valley for the MetRec district, and how that 6B money will be spent is a common theme for those running for the board. The candidates include Cassia Cadenhead, Keith Bauer, Ethan Mueller, Mary Haskell and Brendan McClarney. You can see details of their positions on page 17. While absentee ballots are available until April 25 by emailing Sue Wallace at deo@gcmetrec.com, that election will primarily be held through in-person voting on May 2. In Crested Butte, voting will be held at the Queen of All Saints Parish Hall at 401 Sopris Avenue. In Gunnison, you can vote at the Fred Field House at the county fairgrounds at 275 South Spruce Street.

CB Fire Protection District

The CBFPD election concludes May 2 as well, but that election is being conducted through a mail ballot. Eligible voters should have received their ballot by now. Three incumbent board members, Jack Dietrich of CB South, Tina Kempin of Mt. Crested Butte and Eric Tunkey of Buckhorn Ranch, all submitted the paperwork to continue on the board while no one decided to run against them. 

According to CBFPD chief executive officer Sean Caffrey, unlike most other government entities in the valley, the CBFPD has not totally “De-Bruced” under the Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR) so they are asking voters to do so this spring. A De-Brucing election is a term used to describe an election where the voters are asked to permit the district to keep revenues in excess of one or both of the TABOR revenue limits. The term “De-Brucing” comes from the name of the person associated with the TABOR regulations, Douglas Bruce.

“Enacting the proposed ballot measure will allow the district board to better adjust the changing conditions at their discretion, as opposed to having to follow a restrictive statewide formula,” Caffrey explained. 

As of 2023, Caffrey said the overall district mill levy is at about 11 mills with a 2.5 mill tax credit in place. This De-Brucing measure would allow the CBFPD to collect a little over two mills more when needed. While not raising the tax rate, De-Brucing would increase the amount of money the district could collect and retain under TABOR. So, for a house valued at $1 million, Caffrey said the district can currently collect about $760 a year in property tax under TABOR restrictions. If voters approve the De-Brucing measure, the district could collect and keep an additional $145 annually on top of the approximately $760 brought in each year on that $1 million house. 

Caffrey said that given the recent growth rate of property values in the district, the district “projects a tax credit of at least two mills will be maintained in the foreseeable future with the amount of credit potentially climbing as 2024 assessed valuation figures becomes better known.”

CBFPD ballots must be returned and received by the district no later than May 2. 

GCEA

The GCEA has three board seats up for election. District 1 is located in the North Valley and includes the town of Crested Butte. Incumbent Greg Wiggins has served on the board since 2011 and is seeking reelection to represent District 1. District 1 resident Frank Stern is challenging Wiggins and seeking to be elected to that District 1 seat as well.

In District 4, which extends west of the city of Gunnison, Michelle Lehmann is seeking reelection, while in District 5, which includes the Lake City area, board member Tom Carl has submitted the paperwork to run again. Each board member is elected for a three-year term and there are seven total board members.

Those interested in running for the GCEA board have until April 21 at 4:30 p.m. to return a completed petition with 15 valid signatures. Ballots will be mailed out May 22 to all members of record. The association is conducting a so-called “hybrid election” that will allow voters to cast their ballot either in person, through the mail or electronically. The GCEA election will conclude at its annual meeting scheduled for Tuesday, June 20. Results are expected to be announced on June 22.

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