Candidates speak up

City Council hopefuls concerned about budgeting, growth

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— Most Steamboat Springs City Council candidates are concerned about fiscal responsibility, growth management and economic development.

What they want to do to solve those problems is another matter.

The candidates met Wednes--day at a forum sponsored by the Steamboat Pilot & Today and KRMR Radio.

During the forum, candidates answered questions about city funding of fields for Triple Crown use, their opinions about the performance of the City Council and what they would do if elected.

District I: Steve Ivancie and Nancy Kramer are now City Council members, but only one will win remain after the Nov. 1 election.

Ivancie described himself as a working man who represents working families.

"I have tried to respond to the interests and expectations of those who can't miss work to have their voices heard," he said.

Kramer's work experiences have included time as a registered nurse, a bakery cafe owner and executive director of the Steamboat Springs Arts Council. She said she wants to help others enjoy the quality of life she has enjoyed while living in Steamboat.

Both council members said they were interested in a regional sports complex that could be used by Triple Crown. Ivancie said local use of any new recreational facilities should be a priority, and Kramer said she does not support new fields within the city limits.

If he wins, Ivancie said, he would work so the budget process funds basic services. He said he also wants to diversify the local economy and codify inclusionary zoning.

"I want to ensure people can live where they work," Ivancie said.

Kramer said she hopes to add more detail to city planning guidelines so planning commissioners can make more decisions while the City Council focuses on the big picture.

"We need clear policy and direction," Kramer said.

District 2: One of this fall's two three-way races is in District 2, where Warren Harner and Charles McConnell are challenging incumbent Loui Antonucci.

On Wednesday, Antonucci said his time on the council has included work to start the local marketing district, which established a 2 percent lodging tax at the base of the Steamboat Ski Area, and the urban renewal authority, which allows the city to capture a fraction of incremental property-tax growth to improve public facilities at the ski base.

"I think my record speaks for itself," Antonucci said.

Harner said he thinks the current council is lacking an important group of residents.

"I'm concerned that community families are not being represented," he said.

McConnell, who is retired, said he would treat the City Council seat as a full-time job.

"I think I can do a better job," he said.

McConnell and Harner criticized the council for the way it has handled the tennis bubble project, for which the council approved $3 million for a project that originally was expected to cost less than $2 million.

"I don't believe they exercise good fiscal responsibility with tax-holder dollars," McConnell said.

Harner said the tennis bubble is the "most glaring" example of the council's fiscal irresponsibility.

Antonucci agreed that the tennis bubble project was a failure, but he said the council had to approve the project because the structure already had been ordered.

If re-elected, Antonucci said, he would work to improve the city's budget process, especially when it comes to allocating money for community nonprofit organizations.

District 3: The council's District 3 race pits Steamboat Springs native Kevin Kaminski against six-year Planning Commissioner Dick Curtis.

Kaminski, president of his family's B&K Distributing business, said he is running for council because he owes it to Steamboat.

"Steamboat Springs has given me everything that I have. This is my opportunity to give something back," he said.

Curtis said he wants to bring his experience as a planning commissioner to the council chambers.

"We need sound planning strategies for the future," Curtis said.

If elected, Curtis said, he would focus on economic health, implementing the West of Steamboat Springs Area Plan and creating an affordable housing plan.

Good planning, he said, will help maintain the city's unique community character.

Kaminski said he would promote a healthy economy, encourage affordability in housing and child care and use business sense when making decisions.

Kaminski focused on fiscal responsibility, something he said is lacking in the council. Members are using a "ready-fire-aim" method instead of aiming at their target before shooting, he said.

Curtis said he supports the council's efforts to support Howelsen Hill.

Those actions, he said, will help Steamboat keep its designation as Ski Town USA.

At Large: The other three-way race for City Council is for the at-large seat, a two-year position that pits Towny Anderson, who has worked in historic preservation; Stuart Lynn, a roofer; and Bud Romberg, a retired science teacher.

During Wednesday's forum, Lynn and Romberg said they were concerned about the council's approval of the tennis bubble project.

"It's not utilized to its potential," Lynn said, emphasizing the need for multiuse recreation facilities.

Romberg said he doesn't like the way the council bids and funds capital improvements.

"Major changes need to be made in the way we do business," Romberg said. He wants to stay within an affordable budget.

Anderson had a different concern about the council: On two occasions, it has asked some residents to pay extra for fire services. He said he doesn't agree with raising taxes for basic services.

Anderson also said that if he were elected, his top priority would be to create a permanent source of funding for the Yampa Valley Housing Authority.

Lynn is interested in having the city acquire Steamboat Ski Area. Revenue from the ski area should stay in the valley, he said.

Romberg's top goal is to restore a good working relationship with the Routt County Board of Commissioners.

"Without that, the issues of growth management and affordable housing will not be solved," Romberg said.

Romberg also said he is the only at-large candidate with council experience and that he won't go through a learning curve.

Lynn acknowledged his learning curve and said the last couple of months have been "a crash course in government."

"I'm the black sheep," Lynn said. "I'm going to raise hell if I get elected."

--o reach Dana Strongin, call 871-4229 or e-mail dstrongin@steamboatpilot.com

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