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Ballots arrive in the mail this week

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County election officials report that ballots should begin arriving in voters' mailboxes this week. In the coordinated election, two school board seats will be filled (see related story) and there is one statewide measure: Proposition BB, which asks voters to decide if around $66 million in excess marijuana revenue should go back to taxpayers, or should be used for projects such as school construction. More information on that issue can be found by going to the nonpartisan www.coloradobluebook.com.

The majority of municipalities in Delta County are posing a question about telecommunications services. The question comes on the heels of a $5.2 million grant for broadband development in Delta and Montrose counties.

Because broadband has become so critical, many communities regard it as a basic infrastructure need, on par with roads, water systems and energy grids.

Colorado Counties Inc., (CCI) and the Colorado Municipal League (CML) recently issued a summary of the issue:

"The increasing demand for broadband service -- often driven by economic development concerns -- has forced many local government officials to re-examine their role in the provision of broadband services."

One of the biggest impediments to local governments enhancing broadband infrastructure is a law passed in 2005 which is commonly referred to as SB 152.

"SB 152 prohibits most uses of municipal or county money for infrastructure to improve local broadband service, without first going to a vote of the people."

Thus the question posed to voters in Cedaredge, Crawford, Delta, Paonia, Hotchkiss and Delta County.

CCI and CML note that in the past few years, 10 municipalities and three counties have placed measures on the ballot to override the prohibitions in SB 152. "These measures have passed handily in virtually every jurisdiction, with the support of citizens who are frustrated and want timely action on broadband service in their communities."

The vast majority of local governments which have passed SB 152 questions (or are going to the ballot in the near future) are not interested in hooking up homes and businesses and providing actual broadband services themselves.

"By and large, these jurisdictions are working to enhance local broadband infrastructure in order to attract service providers who would otherwise be unwilling or unable to serve their communities," the CCI/CML summary relates.

In the meantime, local communities are moving forward in partnership with DMEA and Region 10 to plan build-out to anchor institutions in DMEA's service area. Once access points are established, the network would be available for private "last mile" providers to deliver high-speed Internet service to businesses and homes.

Cedaredge voters are also being asked to raise the town's sales and use tax from 2.0 to 2.5 percent, and the North Fork Water Conservancy District is asking for permission to "collect, retain and expend full revenues" without regard to TABOR limitations.

Those who wish to cast ballots in person can stop by the Delta County Courthouse or the North Fork Annex in Hotchkiss during business hours. On Election Day, Nov. 3, both locations will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

In both Delta and Hotchkiss, voters will also find 24-hour dropoff boxes.

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