An important part of City Council responsibility is representing the City on local and state boards and commissions. These assignments are made after the council election and are shared by council members depending on interest, background and experience. Meetings of these boards and commissions are sometimes on the Front Range and thus involve travel expenses.
In the past, representation at these meetings was not a high priority. Under the leadership of Paul Strong in 2004 and 2005, we began to participate more in these organizations and I commend Paul for this. During my tenure, we continued and expanded such effort because we could see the benefit to Steamboat's environment, economy, and standing within the State. I feel certain Susan Dellinger will continue this endeavor.
Questions have arisen regarding the Steamboat Pilot article of Sunday, March 11, entitled "City Council Costs Rise Sharply." I would like to clarify a few points. All travel expenses are controlled, arranged and booked by the City Manager's office. The city pays a set amount for meals ($40/day) and mileage ($.45/mile). Lodging is at a special fixed tax-free government rate regardless of location or hotel. When possible, I either conference by telephone or drive to Denver and back on the same day.
Why are these meetings worth the trip? The Colorado Municipal League is an association of 265 cities and towns. The League provides valuable demographic and statistical services to its members. They also serve as a sounding board and as a reservoir of experience as we grapple with new issues and challenges. With City Council encouragement I ran for and was elected to the board of directors for the Colorado Municipal League in '04 and '06. I was elected by the board to be Secretary/Treasurer in '06, and I will be President in '08. Decisions made at the CML affect every municipality in Colorado; we want Steamboat Springs' voice heard.
Water is our most valuable natural resource; we must be active participants in any decision that affects Northwest Colorado water. That is why I attend the Colorado Water Congress and other water meetings. Critical water questions are facing the West Slope right now; we must be part of the conversation.
Council President represents Steamboat Springs on the Colorado Association of Ski Towns. These meetings are an excellent place to share ideas and strategies with similar communities on common problems. Specifically, through participation in such meetings, City Council has learned about and recently taken action on such issues as affordable housing legislation, energy efficiency policy, economic development through special districts and strategies for protecting our water supply and the Yampa River. There is no school for elected officials. However the interaction and experience gained through these opportunities builds our knowledge base, strengthens our understanding of issues and enhances our ability to effectively represent Steamboat Springs.
While it is an honor to represent the City, it is also a great responsibility to know and understand the issues and participate in a meaningful way. Decisions are made at these meetings that directly affect Steamboat Springs. Therefore, a knowledgeable, competent and experienced representative must be there to provide input before such decisions are undertaken.
Public service comes at a price. Time spent away from Steamboat is time away from family and job, often resulting in loss of income. The reward is knowing that the interests of Steamboat Springs have been successfully represented. If you have questions about the Colorado Municipal League, the Colorado Water Congress or the expenses involved in attending their meetings, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Steamboat Springs City Council