Voters to decide on charter-changing ballot questions

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Parker residents will vote on five ballot questions that will give town council the power to impose higher municipal fines and announce meetings electronically.

Ballot questions 2J, 2K, 2L, 2M and 2N will change language in the town charter, a policy guiding document first adopted in 1984. By law, any amendment to the charter must go before voters.

Questions 2J and 2M deal with penalties imposed by Parker’s municipal court. Currently, monetary fines are capped at $1,000, and the maximum jail term that can be imposed is one year. Town spokeswoman Elise Penington said the charter amendment is in response to a change in state law due to House Bill 13-1060, which allows municipal courts to assess fines of up to $2,650 for violations of municipal ordinances. If approved by voters, fines and penalties would be established by town council ordinance.

The state legislature changed the fine amount to adjust for inflation, and Parker is trying to change its language “to be consistent with state law,” Penington said. Ballot questions 2J and 2M would permit town council to decide on penalties through ordinance instead of putting minor wording changes to a public vote each time, she said.

Ballot questions 2K, 2L and 2N would give town officials more “flexibility” in deciding how to announce public meetings, special meetings and notices, with the exception of those dealing with annexations and liquor licenses. Questions 2K and 2L would replace existing language that requires the Town of Parker to announce public meetings in two ways, including the newspaper of record, the Douglas County News-Press. The DCNP is a sister publication of the Parker Chronicle.

If approved, question 2N would create a new section that allows Parker Town Council to pass an ordinance that would enable it to decide the type of public noticing used.

“The purpose of these changes is to allow the town council the flexibility to use not only the traditional methods of notice, but allow use of the town’s website, social media and other methods that are developed in the future,” an e-mail from the town says.

“It allows council to make that call, unless state law requires us to do otherwise,” Penington said.

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