Photo by John F. Russell
Carl Dunham, Routt County building official, listens as the Steamboat Springs City Council and Routt County commissioners discuss building regulations, and procedures at Tuesday night's meeting. Seated with Dunham were Dan Strand, Routt County finance director, and County Manager Tom Sullivan
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
Steamboat Springs Steamboat Springs builders will have at least one more season working with the Routt County Regional Building Department.
Avoiding what has proved to be a third rail of local politics, the Steamboat Springs City Council has reversed the stance of the previous City Council and will attempt to resolve differences with the county before hiring an outside contractor to provide its building department services.
"I think it's in the best interests of the community to get everybody back at the table and improve the (intergovernmental agreement)," Councilman Jon Quinn said. "I don't see any merits to outsourcing this service."
The previous City Council gave the county notice last year that it wanted out of its intergovernmental agreement regarding the building department. But in an amicable joint meeting of the City Council and Routt County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday, the two bodies agreed to extend the scheduled termination of that agreement about six months, through the end of the year - despite the lingering concerns of city staff. The two governments will in the meantime try to develop a new agreement that is amenable to all.
Contractors in the audience Tuesday reacted gleefully to the proceedings.
"I'm so pleased to see the two bodies willing to work together," local contractor Mark Halvorson said to the groups. "I encourage you to keep going down the road you're going."
Steamboat resident Steve Aigner sounded a more cautionary opinion, citing the issues that brought city and county officials together in the first place.
"If the city had not made this proposal, I don't know if you would have got together," Aigner said. "It's incumbent on you to get this worked out."
City staff has raised a myriad of concerns, throughout many years, regarding the regional building department. A memo submitted by City Manager Alan Lanning outlining minimal needs for restructuring an agreement with the county calls for changes such as joint supervision of the county's chief building official, Carl Dunham, and improvements to the current record-keeping system. The memo also calls for a complete audit of the building department, dating back to 1984, including an evaluation of whether a controversial $1.4 million transfer last year from building department funds to the county's general fund was appropriate.
Noting the political volatility of that particular issue, Councilman Scott Myller suggested that audits only be performed on an annual basis going forward - not retroactively.
"It's such a hot topic that we need to take it off the table," he said.
A committee of city and county staff and representatives from the elected bodies was asked to come up with a revised intergovernmental agreement in the next 30 days.