Berthoud votes to keep recreation dollars
By Dan Karpiel
The unofficial results of Tuesday’s municipal election are in and it is clear that Berthoud voters want change on the town board and are eager to see parks and recreation projects continue to receive considerable funding.
With four open seats and only four candidates on the ballot, all four were guaranteed spots on the Berthoud Board of Trustees. Three newcomers – Mike Grace, May Soricelli and Lonnie Stevens – will join this board April 14, this upcoming Tuesday, with four-year terms. Voters also passed Ordinance 1282 by a 62% to 38% margin, allowing the town to retain tax revenue that was above estimations for use on parks and recreation projects, including the proposed rec center at Waggener Farm Park.
Current Mayor Will Karspeck and Mayor Pro-Tem Jeff Hindman will also remain on the board, however, Hindman received the lowest vote total of the four trustee candidates and thus will serve only a two-year term. Hindman’s two-year term will essentially fill out the remainder of the term vacated by Pete Tomassi, who resigned from the board in late January in protest of actions taken by the board regarding the financing of the rec center project.
Karspeck received 1,566 votes, the most of all five candidates on the ballot. Soricelli was the top-getter of the trustee candidates with 1,376. Grace received the support of 1,265 voters, Stevens earned 1,257 votes and Hindman received 934 votes.
Reached for comment Tuesday evening and asked about the election results, Soricelli said, “I do not take lightly the responsibility of this appointment. I am truly humbled and honored to serve those who have selected me to represent their voice in town hall. Every decision I make going forward must conscientiously be for the good of others and not myself. I believe in this town and genuinely love its people.”
In addition to Tomassi’s resignation, current trustee Brian Laak initially sought another term but had a change of heart and withdrew his candidacy, leaving four candidates for the four open seats. Karspeck, a Berthoud native, also ran unopposed in the mayoral election and will serve out another four-year term.
With three newcomers on the board, Berthoud residents can expect new philosophies and a different approach to the business of the town. As Soricelli explained, “I do think we are entering a season of new perspective with three new members of the board. I thank the voters who took the time to vote, even though it was an uncontested election, they took the time to share their desire for the new appointments. I think that speaks volumes.”
Ordinance 1282, which was championed by the special interest group Kids and Community, argued in favor of the ordinance claiming that the excess tax revenue, which totaled roughly $376,000, would be better put to use on parks and recreation projects in town rather than refunded to Berthoud taxpayers, who would have received just a hair over $54 in a one-time property tax credit.
Under provisions set forth by the Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR) statute, governments must estimate how much revenue will be generated by a new tax when putting the measure before voters. The town estimated the 1% sales and use tax approved in November 2018 would generate $1.4 million but the town collected $1.76 million and was thus required to offer voters the option of a refund.
The new members of the town board will be sworn in after April 16, when the election results are certified.
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