Recall reimbursements get council approval

Mayor recused himself from the vote

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The Castle Rock Town Council approved the second and final reading of an ordinance that will allow councilmembers who prevail in a recall to seek reimbursements.

The vote was 6-0. Mayor Paul Donahue recused himself from the discussion. Donahue won a July recall election for his seat and will finish the remainder of his term, which expires in November. Under the new policy, he is eligible to seek reimbursements.

The ordinance's second reading clarified two questions councilmembers had posed at the previous meeting.

First, it clarified that councilmembers may not seek reimbursements for expenses paid for by donations to the candidate or an issues committee. However, had the councilmember personally donated to the campaign, they could seek reimbursements for those expenditures.

Second, the wording was altered to explicitly allow the council to approve all, some or none of the requested reimbursements.

District 5 Castle Rock Town Councilmember Renee Valentine, who was recently the subject of a recall petition, participated in reimbursement discussions for the first time on Sept. 20. The three primary petitioners in Valentine's recall dropped their effort on Sept. 9.

Valentine said she wanted to voice her support for the new policy, having not been able to speak on the issue previously.

“Paul and I are the only ones who know what it's like to go through something like this,” she said.

She concluded by saying she believes the ordinance is correct to leave these decisions to the council's discretion.

During the first reading of the ordinance on Sept. 6, Town Attorney Bob Slentz stressed that the ordinance was not drafted to appease any particular councilmember. It came about to provide anyone who serves on the council, present or future, the opportunity to seek reimbursements if they prevail in a recall.

The ordinance language was also kept broad, he said, to provide councils the flexibility to award reimbursements on a case-by-case basis.

A provision in state statute already allows for councilmembers to seek reimbursements, but the town's charter is mum on the issue. The ordinance was created to provide council's direction on a local level, rather than solely rely on the state statute. 

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