Steamboat Springs Now is not the time to add a new environmental position to city staff, city officials said Tuesday.
Despite a request from the city's Green Team, a volunteer group that takes on local environmental initiatives and activities, the Steamboat Springs City Council decided hiring a full-time sustainability coordinator is not appropriate outside of the city's annual budgeting process. Several members of the Green Team spoke in support of such a hire during Tuesday night's council meeting in Centennial Hall, saying Steamboat is lagging behind other communities that are moving forward with similar hires and energy efficiency efforts.
But City Manager Alan Lanning said May 15 was not the proper time for an $80,000 to $100,000 addition to city staff, benefits and office space, and added he "mildly protested" the timing and method of the request.
The Green Team item fell under the "City Staff Introduction and Discussion" section of Tuesday night's agenda. That section usually is reserved for items early in the public process that do not involve council action or extensive public comment.
"This should be part of the budget process," Lanning said. "I'm not sure that we needed a parade of people telling us that we need a coordinator : This (item) is not a public forum to push an agenda."
The city will finalize its 2008 budget in late fall of this year. Funding for a sustainability coordinator could begin in January 2008. City Councilman Ken Brenner proposed an interim contractor be hired to address environmental policies until a full-time hire is made.
"There's a ton of great ideas," he said of Green Team efforts that could be fueled by a full-time leader. "We will see results between now and the end of the year."
Brenner's proposal received no support from the rest of the council, which praised the work of the Green Team but agreed with Lanning about budgetary protocol.
"We're not discounting any of the work that has been done (by the Green Team)," City Council President Susan Dellinger said.
Lanning and council members agreed to revise the "City Staff Introduction and Discussion" section of the agenda to better address community needs and have more efficient meetings.
"My feeling is we shouldn't be here at 11 o'clock," City Councilman Loui Antonucci said of the council's increasingly lengthy meetings.
In other action Tuesday night, the City Council:
- Heard a study of financial impacts related to summer events hosted by Triple Crown Sports, and directed city staff to move forward with explorations of a regional sports complex, possibly built near Hayden as part of a regional cooperative effort.
- Agreed to fund a $68,000 economic development assessment for the city of Steamboat Springs, conducted by Denver consultants Economic and Planning Systems.
- Approved the first reading of a watershed protection ordinance intended to protect Steamboat's water supply by increasing and clarifying regulations for rural land use near city water sources. The second reading of the ordinance is scheduled for June 5. Comments on the ordinance may be submitted to Lauren Mooney, assistant to the city manager, at 879-2060 or firstname.lastname@example.org
- Approved an amended version of the community housing plan for Steamboat Barn Village, a 90-unit subdivision to be built near Yampa Valley Medical Center and east of Pine Grove Road.
- Agreed to conduct a public hearing about a petition to establish a downtown Business Improvement District, which would use taxes to fund infrastructure improvements in the area, at a meeting June 19.
- Approved the second and final reading of an agreement between the city and Mount Werner Water and Sanitation District. The agreement accepts a $30,504 payment from Mount Werner to the city, as compensation for more than two decades of payments made to Mount Werner for unmeasured water and sewage services in the Anglers Drive area. Former City Council President Kevin Bennett called the payment "an outrage" and "a grave injustice," saying the city is owed about $500,000 in unwarranted sewage payments. City attorney Tony Lettunich cited legal issues and a statute of limitations in the case, and advised the council to accept the proposed payment. "We're trying to correct an oversight that was made 27 years ago, by persons who are long gone from the scene," said Jay Gallagher, district manager for Mount Werner. "Let's move past this." In response to a request from Bennett, the council agreed to examine disparities in water fee rates for residents in Old Town as opposed to residents in other parts of the city.
- Tabled the first reading of proposed revisions to the city's inclusionary zoning ordinance, which regulates affordable housing policies, to May 22 due to the late hour Tuesday night.