Vote on city charter changes

Voters who live in the city of Durango have received mail-in ballots asking them to approve two changes to the city charter. One is a matter of housekeeping, the other is a bit more substantive. Both deserve a “yes” vote.

The latter question is in response to a failed ballot measure in April asking city property owners to approve a franchise agreement between the city and La Plata Electric Association. Because the charter now allows only property owners to vote on such matters, the city is seeking approval to change the charter to enfranchise all city voters. That makes sense. Property owners are not the only voters who pay utility bills. Renters and others who have a stake in how the city conducts business with utility companies should be able to weigh in on such matters.

Whether the charter change will result in a different outcome on an another attempt at passing a franchise agreement is a different matter, but the city charter ought to cast a broad net in terms of which city residents are allowed to vote on matters of concern to all who live here.

The less interesting ballot question would take care of a practical matter by placing the city clerk – rather than the city treasurer – in charge of managing franchise agreements. Because the position of city treasurer no longer exists, this issue is a formality, but nonetheless important to officially remedy. Voters should approve the change.

The city charter is both a framing document and a living one, and as such is subject to periodic revisions and updates. These two questions are both timely and appropriate. Vote “yes” on the two changes and return ballots to City Hall by 7 p.m. Tuesday.