Group leader optimistic about final ruling on de-incorporation vote
~ by Rick Langenberg ~
A long-awaited petition effort to pull the plug on the local government in Green Mountain Falls is entering the final stage.
And according to campaign leader Judy Wiedner, the petition proposal, which merely asks for permission to “discontinue the incorporation of Green Mountain Falls,” will be submitted early this week to Fourth Judicial District officials. If the signature threshold is met, then the question could be decided during the forthcoming Nov. 6 election
Another possible option may call for a special election.
“I am very optimistic we will be successful. I have had a lot of good input,” said Wiedner
As of Saturday afternoon, she stated that she was only about 25 autographs short of meeting the group’s goal. Wiedner estimated that she herself has collected approximately 130 signatures.
The petition leader, a long-time resident, has been quite busy obtaining voter autographs through mostly going door-to-door. In many ways, she has become the face of the local de-incorporation campaign.
The idea of having Green Mountain Falls become unincorporated has been discussed in the past, but the plan has never advanced to the ballot stage.
Proponents say the de-incorporation designation would significantly lower taxes for residents and allow property owners much more control over their destiny. Plus, group leaders cite the current diminishing of services, and believe the town would be better served by securing arrangements with El Paso and Teller counties.
Opponents, though, question if residents would lose critical services. In addition, they say the character of the community would be diminished by surrendering its incorporation status.
GMF has been an incorporated town since the late 1800s
“When the town was formed backed then, we needed more control. That is no longer the case,” said the group leader last weekend, after another exhaustive day of gathering signatures. “It is really a win-win for the residents and for the community.”
But if the petition effort is ruled successful, Wiedner said her group would be open to public meetings to discuss the pros and cons of the issue. She admits she has encountered some critics, who say they will vote against the move to have the town become unincorporated.
Town officials have mostly taken a wait and see attitude and haven’t commented much on the issue.
Interim Town Manager Jason Wells stated that the petition authors certainly have the right to pursue this option. He just questioned if this would solve the current challenges facing GMF. “You would be complaining to an empty building,” said Wells, in describing GMF’s current setup as a local government that does provide key services.
At last week’s trustees meeting, Interim Clerk Judy Egbert described the de-incorporation movement as mostly “rumors,” in response to a resident question about the issue. Mayor Jane Newberry agreed, saying she has received no official word regarding the validity of the effort.
The town certainly won’t have a shortage of ballot issues this November, with already four questions making the preliminary cut (see related story).