Judge turns down fire ballot challenge

Court finds that voters are sufficiently informed by wording

Posted 8/26/18

A judge recently denied local political fixture Carol Brzeczek's challenges against elements of the ballot measure that will determine whether Littleton becomes fully included in the boundaries of …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Username
Password
Log in

Don't have an ID?


Print subscribers

If you're a print subscriber, but do not yet have an online account, click here to create one.

Non-subscribers

Click here to see your options for becoming a subscriber.

If you made a voluntary contribution of $25 or more in Nov. 2018-2019, but do not yet have an online account, click here to create one at no additional charge. VIP Digital Access Includes access to all websites


Our print publications are advertiser supported. For those wishing to access our content online, we have implemented a small charge so we may continue to provide our valued readers and community with unique, high quality local content. Thank you for supporting your local newspaper.

Judge turns down fire ballot challenge

Court finds that voters are sufficiently informed by wording

Posted

A judge recently denied local political fixture Carol Brzeczek's challenges against elements of the ballot measure that will determine whether Littleton becomes fully included in the boundaries of South Metro Fire Rescue, and ballots will soon be sent to the printer, but Brzeczek may not be done yet.

Brzeczek filed suit against South Metro Fire Rescue earlier in the summer, alleging that the language of the ballot measure incorrectly or inadequately conveyed the conditions under which Littleton could become part of South Metro's fire protection district. She also called the process South Metro used to finalize the measure improper.

Arapahoe County District Judge Frederick Martinez ruled against Brzeczek on Aug. 10, saying that voters would be adequately informed by the ballot language, and that a prior judge's ruling on the process used to finalize the language could stand.

Now, Brzeczek said she may appeal her case to the state Supreme Court, asserting that “the sanctity of election law is too important to let go.”

“I'd like to say it's over,” Brzeczek said. “I wish South Metro had been more honorable to begin with. If they had followed the law, we wouldn't be here.”

Specifically, Brzeczek asserts misconduct in the appointment of Barb Andrews as the district's designated election official, alleging that her appointment was not approved by the board as required by law. Both Judge Martinez and Douglas County Judge Paul King found Andrews' designation and appointment legitimate.

Brzeczek also asserted that the ballot language inaccurately states that if approved, the measure automatically lowers Littleton's mill levy rate from 6.662 to 2.0. She said that South Metro cannot force Littleton, a separate entity, to lower its mill levy.

A measure passed by Littleton City Council in April mandates that if voters approve inclusion, the city manager must submit a budget in 2019 that lowers the mill levy rate. Brzeczek says that just because the city manager submits such a budget, city council is not obligated to enact it. Littleton City Manager Mark Relph and city attorney Steve Kemp said in June that they see such a scenario as far-fetched.

Brzeczek also asserted that the ballot should include language saying that the transfer of equipment and assets to South Metro was irreversible, but Judge Martinez cited a clause in the pre-inclusion agreement that allows for the return of assets to Littleton if inclusion is unsuccessful or one party reneges.

South Metro has been transparent and behaved legally and in the best interest of voters, said South Metro Chief Bob Baker.

“The final ballot language is as clear as we can make it, and not misleading,” Baker said. “It's direct, and the judge agreed. We're glad he did.”

Brzeczek was one of five citizens who spoke at a public meeting on the ballot language in July, and it appears that her concerns were at least somewhat heeded, she said.

The most important issue from this point forward, Relph said, is making sure Littleton's transition to receiving fire coverage from South Metro — which will happen anyway on a contract basis if voters reject inclusion — is seamless.

“I've been very pleased with our interaction with South Metro thus far,” Relph said. “We didn't have a lot of time to get this done, but I think it will work out for the best for citizens.”

Relph said he's satisfied with the ballot language.

“It's neutral — that's the most important thing,” Relph said. “It provides more detail now, which is helpful. It's an improvement.”

Comments

Our Papers

Ad blocker detected

We have noticed you are using an ad blocking plugin in your browser.

The revenue we receive from our advertisers helps make this site possible. We request you whitelist our site.