City sets goals at retreat

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Discussing and revising a city tax and revenue policy topped the list of goals the Steamboat Springs City Council set Friday.

The council already had decided to hold a tax policy discussion in January. The council's goal stipulates to appoint a study group and hear recommendations by July 1.

It was the first goal the city identified at an all-day retreat Friday and sparked little discussion. The council also talked about its rules of procedures, code of ethics and conflict of interest.

The list of 2004 goals the council developed will be presented for approval at the first council meeting in January.

Although the tax policy goal received little comment, the council did have discussions on where it should head in its attempts to consolidate with Mount Werner Water and Sanitation District. The council also discussed the possibility of building a park and ride in the south part of town and whether to create some form of employee housing.

Many of the items on the council's goal list already are part of the Steamboat Springs Area Community Plan update, which is scheduled for approval and the beginning stages of implementation in 2004.

One of the first recommendations was to adopt an intergovernmental agreement for a water commission. But with a Friday meeting set to discuss the validity of the water focus group, some questioned if that was the right direction to head in 2004.

The council agreed that an overall goal was to create a more cost-effective system and to equalize rates throughout the city.

Councilwoman Kathy Connell suggested that one of the goals should be creating a park and ride area south of town. She said in the past week she has had discussions with downtown workers who have difficulty parking.

With workers coming from the mountain area, Stage Coach and Oak Creek, Connell suggested the council should work at finding a place where people could park their cars and commute by bus.

But some council members were hesitant to go forward with the idea and pointed to the public perception of the Steamboat Springs Multi-Modal Transit Center west of town.

"I agree with you in concept, but to put this as one of our goals, I don't know," Council President Paul Strong said.

The council decided that one of its goals should be to look for alternative modes of transportation, which most likely will be incorporated into the community area plan.

Another goal discussed was Councilman Ken Brenner's suggestion that the city work on a project for its employee housing.

"Lead by example," Brenner said.

City Manager Paul Hughes said two or three years ago, the city worked with the Steamboat Springs School District, Ski Corp. and Yampa Valley Medical Center to create employee housing, but could not find any land. Today, Hughes said, there are two to three projects proposed in the west of Steamboat area that would require one-third of all housing to be affordable housing.

The council agreed to work with the multijurisdictional housing authority to pursue this goal.

Council members did express strong support for looking into plans to improve Ski Time Square, which they believe is in dire need of a facelift. Strong support also was shown for working with developers to build in the west of Steamboat area.

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