Iron Horse choices considered

Council requests estimated costs of essential property repairs

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Former city council member Towny Anderson speaks about proposed annexations during the public comment section of the city council meeting in Steamboat Springs on Tuesday evening.

— The Steamboat Springs City Council is taking a measured approach to its management of the Iron Horse Inn, a property purchased last year in a deal approved by the previous council to provide affordable rental housing for city employees and others.

Rather than move forward with an original plan to spend $1 million renovating the hotel's 52 rooms into 40 traditional apartments after this ski season, City Council directed city staff Tuesday to prepare estimates of how much it would cost to make only essential repairs, in anticipation of continuing to run the inn as it is currently being operated.

The city is currently honoring the hotel's existing reservations and renting out some rooms in the manner of a nightly hotel, while also providing longer-term transitional housing in about 30 rooms for eight city employees and people working elsewhere in the city.

Deputy City Manager Wendy DuBord said the inn is generating more money than anticipated under the hotel and long-term-rental models, but she noted that the hotel portion has a larger profit margin.

"I think it makes a lot of sense to keep that diversity in play," Councilman Jon Quinn said.

Council members deemed an immediate sale of the property financially unwise. The city purchased the inn using certificates of participation, and because of the structure of the financing, the $6.5 million needed to immediately pay off the certificates is significantly higher than the $5.3 million borrowed for the purchase. That amount includes the $1 million originally intended for renovations, which has not been spent, and $235,000 to pay the cost of issuing the certificates.

"To divest ourselves from it would be pretty cost-prohibitive," Councilwoman Cari Hermacinski said.

In other action

Showing a flair for theatrics, several supporters of restaurant and bar owners Kevin and Kathy Nerney attended Tuesday's meeting in pirate costumes. In November, the previous City Council, acting as the city's Liquor License Authority, revoked Kevin Nerney's liquor license for the Jade Summit restaurant and its upstairs bar, Pirate's Pub, in Ski Time Square.

Both Kevin and Kathy Nerney spoke during the public comment portion of Tuesday's City Council meeting. Kathy Nerney has applied for a liquor license of her own and said the city has obstructed her efforts. Kevin Nerney, also dressed in a pirate costume, suggested the city could rescind the revocation of his license with "a stroke of the pen."

The City Council will consider Kathy Nerney's application for a liquor license at its Jan. 15 meeting. If approved, state statute dictates that the liquor license would not take effect for 30 days.

Also Tuesday, the City Council voted to appoint Karen Dixon, Sarah Fox and Brian Hanlen to the Steamboat Springs Planning Commission. Dixon received the most votes of the 11 applicants and was given a regular seat on the commission. That seat expires March 31, 2009. Fox earned the second-most votes and was awarded a seat that expires March 31 of this year. Hanlen, with the third-most votes, will fill an alternate seat that expires March 31, 2009.

The City Council went into its first executive, or secret, session Tuesday at the request of City Attorney Tony Lettunich, to discuss the potential acquisition of three parcels of real estate.

Hermacinski campaigned against the number of executive sessions held by the previous City Council, but she said last week that she would approve the session requested Tuesday. Once the sensitive nature of the discussions pass, Hermacinski said, she hopes to have the nature of them publicly disclosed.

Comments

another_local 6 years, 11 months ago

The Iron Horse houses 8 city workers? We are talking about loosing (according to who you listen to) up to a million a year operating this?

Give them raises and let them look for housing on the open market like the rest of the world does.

Get out of the deal or turn it over to some outfit like Mountain Resorts to operate until you can get out of it. The city should not be operating lodging for guests OR for employees.

What a waste.

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thecondoguy1 6 years, 11 months ago

another_, short but to the point, with a good suggestion for a exit stratigy, good thinking, this could get really bad givin the prominent location of this hotel/motel.............

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addlip2U 6 years, 11 months ago

Also Tuesday, the City Council voted to appoint Karen Dixon, Sarah Fox and Brian Hanlen to the Steamboat Springs Planning Commission.

In evaluating the applicants, Ivancie said "he will look not just for architects and other design professionals, "but all the people development affects."

If that is what Ivancie was looking for, why is it that at least one of the appointed to serve on the Planning commission is an owner/ partner of a large local Construction company? Is this a conflict of interest?

Why not appoint unbiased citizens of this community? Out of 11 applicants there had to be at least ONE.

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elphaba 6 years, 11 months ago

The Iron Horse is renting rooms nightly???? Isn't that a blatent conflict with the private sector. How about the City starting a ski rental shop for extra income to offset this boondoogle or maybe legalize gambleing or better yet prostitution in the facility - that way the "Profits" of the City could really be maximized.

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Steve Lewis 6 years, 11 months ago

Local So its fine to pay City employees more, but putting that money instead into rental assistance is unnacceptable? I don't get it. And with the higher wages where does the housing materialize - in Oak Creek?

Iron Horse losing a million a year? But you must have read the other number, Cari used, like -$50,000 a year in current mode. Inconvenient? -Steve Lewis

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thecondoguy1 6 years, 11 months ago

I would like to see the city open a good Tai restaurant with nice clean bathrooms, and plenty of that hot chile oil............, oh, and a real nice California red zin...........

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stompk 6 years, 11 months ago

Certificate of Participation

"Financing in which an individual buys a share of the lease revenues of an agreement made by a municipal or governmental entity, rather than the bond being secured by those revenues. " http://www.investorwords.com/810/Certificate_of_Participation.html

So we can all buy into the lease?

Please explain.

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another_local 6 years, 11 months ago

Lewi, If rental assistance is an allowable deductable benefit like health insurance that benefits both the employer and the employee I am all for it. That would be a normal competitive benefit in the employment market.

Owning rental property is not the same thing as rental assistance by a long shot. For one thing there is no defined extent of the expense. If no one rents the nightly rooms the losses can mount higher and higher. How much staff time is going to go into this boondogle? Will city park staff be doing the landscaping? Will those expenses be charged to the enterprise? How about marketing expenses for the open market rooms?

This was a bad idea for so many reasons.

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another_local 6 years, 11 months ago

Pt, I do not know the answer to that as regards housing. There are some benefits that are not treated that way such as health insurance and certain employee recreational amenities and employer matches to certain qualified plans.

Other benefits like child care, some health expenses, retirement contributions and employee meals under some circumstances can be deductable to the employee and paid through a cafeteria plan.

Regardless of the tax treatment, my point was that I do not mind an employer, including the city, offering housing or housing assistance as a benefit if that is what helps them compete in the market for the employees they want and need. What I object to is the city owning and operating housing. It is outside their fundamental competency and is tying up resources such as staff time and cash that could be used for other projects and other capital needs.

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armchairqb 6 years, 11 months ago

Condoguy We already have a great Thai Restaurant. Ever gone to The Jade Summit? The Pad Thai is as good as any in Thailand. The owners may not be the best business people but they know how to hire cooks who can make Thai Food. Try the Basil Chicken unbelieveble.

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