Sarah Smith Hymes and Tamra Underwood seek reimbursement of Avon recall costs

The bid to recall Avon Mayor Sarah Smith Hymes and council member Tamra Underwood was rejected by more than 70% of voters in the November election.
Vail Daily File

Following the failed recall of Avon Mayor Sarah Smith Hymes and council member Tamra Underwood in the November election, the two are now seeking reimbursement for expenses incurred throughout the recall.

Avon City Council will vote on an ordinance authorizing reimbursement of eligible expenses at its meeting on Tuesday, January 11.

If the city council approved the order, it would reimburse Smith Hymes for $5,500.53 and Underwood for $5,941.35.

Colorado State Statute – specifically Colorado Revised Statute §31-4-504.5 — allows municipalities to reimburse any cardholder subject to a recall and not recalled. The law states that the municipality may “reimburse the incumbent for any monies actually expended as expenses of such an election.”

According to the law, allowable expenses include “money expended to challenge the sufficiency of the petition for removal and to present to voters the official position of the incumbent, including campaign literature and publicity and the maintenance of a campaign headquarters. “.

According to a report on file from the city council meeting – which was prepared by the city’s acting legal representative, Karp Neu Hanlon – the expenses submitted by Smith Hymes and Underwood are eligible under this law.

A note attached to the report shows the expenses submitted by Smith Hymes and Underwood. The expenses shown were incurred between August 2020 and November 2021.

For Smith Hymes, this includes legal fees totaling $4,097.50 regarding the sufficiency of his recall position. The legal fees are dated October, November and December 2020 as well as February and July 2021. She also has a $60 expense for stamps to send information about her “official position” in connection with the October recall. 2021.

Underwood’s memo also includes legal fees totaling $4,097.50 regarding the sufficiency of his recall position. These expenses are dated November 2020, January 2021, April 2021, and August 2021. Underwood has additional expenses to support his campaign, including just over $34 for an Avon voters list from the Eagle County Clerk for the mailing of literature in September 2021, just under $24 for a domain name, $37.50 for a campaign video clip as well as an additional $100 to the Eagle County Clerk in October 2021 for “the reporting service “who voted” for voter tracking.

Both Smith Hymes and Underwood have a shared balance of $1,343.03 for “the design and production of campaign and website materials.” Underwood’s memo has an additional shared balance of $305.24 listed for campaign website updates, but that amount does not appear on Smith Hymes’ memo.

All of these expenses were incurred throughout the lengthy recall process that ran from August 2020 to the November 2, 2021 election. It was an expensive recall process for everyone involved.

In a previous report prepared by City Manager Eric Heil and included in City Council’s September 28, 2021 brief, the city was estimated to have spent just over $90,000 throughout the recall process. Broken down, that number included $80,010.68 spent to that date in legal fees for the recall, as well as about $10,000 to $15,000 in staff time and $10,000 planned for the November 2 coordinated election.

Members of Avon’s recall committee also reported significant costs incurred throughout the process.

The committee also filed a petition with the district court on August 2, 2021, asking the city to pay attorney fees. In that motion, he said that through June 30, 2021, “the committee has reasonably and necessarily incurred $62,821 in attorneys’ fees in response to the city’s filing of this baseless action.”

District Court Judge Russell Granger denied that motion on August 31, 2021. The judge’s order read: “As the Court finds that the matter did not lack substantial merit or was interposed for delay , the motion for attorneys’ fees is dismissed.”

At the Sept. 14 city council meeting, Todd Roehr of the recall committee said “the bill is now about $90,000” for committee members.

At its city council meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 11, Avon City Council will vote on the ordinance, either allowing or denying reimbursement of Smith Hymes and Underwood’s recall campaign expenses.

The first reading of the ordinance is scheduled for 5.20 p.m.. The meeting will be hosted virtually via Zoom, due to the recent spike in COVID-19. Members of the public can register for the meeting at Avon.org.