Steamboat Springs 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.