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A five-month-old, heartily endorsed proposal from a county official to save Colorado Springs taxpayers' dollars hasn't seen much action.

Weeks after the July 28 resignation of longtime City Clerk Kathryn Young, El Paso County Clerk and Recorder Wayne Williams offered to take over some, or even all, of the duties of her office. Williams proposed four options to Colorado Springs Mayor Steve Bach, ranging from minor changes, such as eliminating city-only elections and piggybacking on county ballots, to a major overhaul — the county taking over all of the city clerk's operations.

Williams tells the Indy he set no deadline in his query, and so far, he hasn't received any response.

But "it's not a now or never," Williams says. "We submitted it when we did because Kathryn's retirement made it a very appropriate time. If the city doesn't want to do it for this election, that's fine with us."

Laura Benjamin, city communications specialist, says Bach will ask Williams for a bid to conduct a special election this year for city-owned Memorial Health System, which the city wants to lease to the University of Colorado Hospital. But, Benjamin says, the city hasn't taken other steps regarding Williams' proposal.

Meanwhile, Bach has not replaced Young, who took heat for her handling of aspects of last April's election. He does have an interim city clerk, Cindy Conway, in place.

When Williams initially submitted his proposal, several public entities, including the Indy, endorsed the move for the county to absorb city clerk functions. Williams said the county could work with the city in several ways, from sharing drop-off ballot locations, to contracting with the city to run its elections, to having all city elections in tandem with the county's, to taking over everything. The latter would include issuing liquor and medical marijuana licenses, posting election results, and offering similar services at both city and county clerk offices.

"I believe it makes sense," Williams says. By eliminating the April municipal election and putting its candidates and issues on the county's November 2011 ballot, "the city could have saved hundreds of thousands of dollars in election costs last year."

If the city were to forgo separate municipal elections, such as the one last April, and instead place its issues and candidates on November ballots, it would allow the city to split the cost with other entities participating in those elections.

Also, Williams' office could establish new boundaries for City Council districts, as a voter-approved city charter change increases the number of district representatives on the nine-member City Council from four to six. That's scheduled to go into effect for April 2013.

Williams says his office sets new district boundaries for county commissioners, who unanimously approved the changes based on population growth last year, and it could do the same for Council seats.

According to Conway, the charter sets the deadline for redistricting boundaries as no later than Dec. 3 of this year.

"There's nothing to stop the city from contracting that out," Williams says, adding that his office recently reconfigured the Upper Black Squirrel Creek Groundwater Management District boundaries, at a cost of $1,167.50, based on hourly employees' time.

The county clerk and recorder's office has helped other governmental offices on an hourly basis, including the Jan. 24 recall election of Saguache County's clerk and recorder. That county has paid Williams' office $1,275 to date.

newsroom@csindy.com

  • County clerk's offer to run city operations still stands.

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