Gas fee fails; Council debates housing strategy

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— The Steamboat Springs City Council reversed course Tuesday on a proposal that would have led to a 2 percent increase in gas bills within city limits. A vote to increase the city's franchise fee with Atmos Energy from 3 percent to 5 percent failed, 5-2.

Councilmen Scott Myller and Walter Magill voted in favor of the proposal, while council members Meg Bentley, Cari Hermacinski, Loui Antonucci, Steve Ivancie and Jon Quinn voted against it.

The last such increase was in 2002, when the franchise fee was increased from 1 percent to 3 percent. A franchise fee is a fee that governments charge utilities to operate on public property. The city had planned to put the additional revenue, estimated at $150,000, toward sustainability projects in Steamboat Springs such as purchasing hybrid vehicles.

Council members such as Hermacinski and Quinn voted in favor of the proposal at first reading, but said their minds since have changed.

"I'm hearing loud and clear from the people we represent that mostly this is something they don't support," Hermacinski said.

Myller and Magill said they liked the idea of simultaneously encouraging energy conservation and funding sustainability programs. They felt the increase was negligible.

"It can be easily covered," Magill said, "with a sweater or something like that."

Other action

- City Council debated Tuesday what to do with the money it collects from developers as part of its affordable housing legislation.

As of March 3, that money totaled about $161,300, Community Housing Coordinator Nancy Engelken said. Council debated whether to put projects out for bid on an annual basis or wait until the fund reaches a certain amount, such as $750,000. No official action was taken on the subject.

- Council also debated a proposal put forth by Hermacinski to change its "exit strategy" for deed-restricted units. The city's affordable housing ordinance provides the option for the city or Yampa Valley Housing Authority to purchase units that don't sell under their deed restrictions after 12 months. If neither exercises that option, the units are released to the free market.

Hermacinski suggested the city amend the ordinance to allow for a graduated exit strategy that would increase deed restrictions to higher income limits before units are lost to the free market. Other council members said they need more information before making such a change. No official action was taken.

- City Council received an update on its recently completed Community Center in the 1600 block of Lincoln Avenue, west of downtown Steamboat. The center's primary user, the Routt County Council on Aging, plans to begin offering its meals and other programming in the center beginning Monday. Deputy City Manager Wendy DuBord was given permission to spend up to $20,000 of the center's remaining budget on additional furniture for the facility. Councilman Steve Ivancie said the city also is willing to accept donated furniture and artwork.

- Council members also received an update on access to Emerald Park. Many concerned residents of Pamela Lane attended Tuesday's meeting to convey traffic and safety concerns resulting from heavy summertime use of the park. Council members were updated on alternatives to create a new access to the park first identified in 2002, but never acted on. Council members apologized to the Pamela Lane residents for the issue not yet being solved and vowed to take steps to do so.

- City Council appointed Cedar Beauregard, Tom Ernst and Sarah Fox to the Steamboat Springs Planning Commission. Steve Dawes, Sarah Katherman, Blair McNamara and Steve Gadbois were appointed to the Ice Rink Advisory Committee.

Comments

another_local 6 years, 5 months ago

The first thing to do with the fee in lieu money is to stop paying for a position we do not need. The city has no business having a housing coordinator.

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panky 6 years, 5 months ago

Council, are you kidding? $20,000.00 for ADDITIONAL Community Center furniture?

It sounds like the old story about the toilets costing thousands of dollars in some government project.

I'm having deja vu all over again!

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addlip2U 6 years, 5 months ago

I would like to know how is the Yampa Valley Housing Authority funded. If the resources they obtain are to be put towards building affordable housing then why are they spending them on silly adds in Steamboat Pilot?

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SilverSpoon 6 years, 5 months ago

Bore, You should think about bad mouthing the flip floppers.

"Hermacinski and Quinn voted in favor of the proposal at first reading, but said their minds since have changed."

Putting money into a bus that gets 4mpg versus 2mpg(like aspen has already done, years ago) is worth it(2 fold).

Getting money from energy hog HOA's and heated driveway folks is a great idea. And the 2% extra, is miniscule compared to our sales tax that we pay.

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addlip2U 6 years, 5 months ago

sbvor,

Thank you for the background information.

I still pose the question:

If the resources they obtain are to be put towards building affordable housing then why are they spending them on silly (cartoon targeted to a 3rd grade education) adds in Steamboat Pilot?

How is the YVHA budget allocated and to whom are they responsible to?

Is the Yampa Valley Housing Authority self governing?

What does it take to disband IT ?

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justathought 6 years, 5 months ago

Good job Hermacinski and Quinn, I don't see it as flip flopping, I see it as correcting a mistake. You thought it was a good idea until you found out the people that elected you didn't support it so you chose to represent the people. I always laugh when a politician is accused of flip flopping when they change their mind after listening to the voters. Hey SilverSpoon, have you never changed your mind? Flip flopping is to have an opinion that changes for whichever group you are catering to at the time. If it had been the opposite and they had changed their mind in favor of your position would it still be flip flopping? I doubt it.

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SilverSpoon 6 years, 5 months ago

I can flip flop, but on "issues" that promote conservation, they flopped. McGill was right, If you want to lower your heat bill, put on a sweater.

However, the hybrid vehicles they want to purchase are no match for the Prax Air trucks driving through our town daily,delivering liquid CO2 for oil shale speculation. The real dogma(bore), oil shale: 1 barrel in to get 2 barrels out. How many hybrids does it take to save 1 barrel?

No new information is available. The fact is: people are whining about a couple dollars a month. My condo associations uses $20,000 worth of natural gas per year. That 2% hike would increase it to $20,400. An extra $400/80 units, $5/year. Big deal.

$150,000/9000 steamboaters, $16.66 per year

Come election time, we need more magills and myllers, not political puppets who are reactionary and vote with their wallets(or so they think, thanks for the looking out, you saved all of steamboat $1 per month, now we can afford child care!).

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