Our View: Too late for 700 survey

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Editorial Board, August through December 2010

  • Scott Stanford, general manager
  • Brent Boyer, editor
  • Blythe Terrell, city editor
  • Tom Ross, reporter
  • Rich Lowe, community representative
  • Sue Birch, community representative

Contact the editorial board at 970-871-4221 or editor@steamboatpilot.com. Would you like to be a member of the board? Fill out a letter of interest now.

There was a time six months ago when surveying city voters about their specific reasons for voting no on the annexation of Steamboat 700 could have served as a valuable tool for growth planning and discussions. Unfortunately, that time has passed.

So too should the Steamboat Springs City Council pass on a proposal from the Northwest Colorado Council of Governments to conduct a voter survey. Instead of investing $11,000 or more on a survey too late to be reliable, city leaders ought to consider how that money can be better spent in a time of significant revenue decreases and correlating budget reductions.

It appears the council is heading in that direction. During a discussion about the proposed survey at last week’s City Council meeting, council members and city residents in attendance were divided on the issue. Ultimately, the council agreed to address the survey in the context of the city’s 2011 budget, which is the subject of a daylong meeting Oct. 5 in Centennial Hall.

Some council members have said there’s little useful information to be gained from a survey that will reveal across-the-board answers from residents. They question how those answers can be analyzed in a way that will offer clear direction about future growth in and around Steamboat.

We disagreed with that line of thinking six months ago, and we wish the city would have taken prompt action to query voters on the reasons they voted no on Steamboat 700. But the lapse in time since 4,253 city voters cast ballots on Referendum A leaves us little room to argue with the council’s current — and continued — reluctance.

Even the survey proposal from NWCCOG acknowledges the rapidly diminishing reliability of voter feedback.

A request for proposal from NWCCOG dated July 2010 states: “Four months have already elapsed since voters cast their ballots and before long, voters’ memories may erode, weakening the data’s validity. Therefore, if the survey can be completed before mid-September, respondents to the survey will more likely recall accurately the reasons why they voted for or against annexing Steamboat 700.”

This Editorial Board offered a similar sentiment in early April:

“And do it soon because there’s particular value in engaging residents while the issue is fresh in their minds and before the passage of time and changing economic and other circumstances alter the reasons we remember for why we said ‘yes’ or ‘no’ at the polls.”

Mid-September already has passed, and it will be five days into October before the council meets again for that budget hearing. City Council President Cari Hermacinski suggests that Steamboat’s new city planner provide guidance on how the council could best use $10,000 on community planning. Others are suggesting the cost- and labor-intensive job of updating the Community Area Plan. We’re not sure what the best answer is, but we know it’s not a survey of residents on a vote that took place almost seven months ago.

Comments

justice4all 3 years, 6 months ago

Quite obviously voters' memories were already eroded when the vote was cast for Obama and a few others. I bet ya a milkshake at Johnny B'S that the memory will return in November. As far as Hermanski is concerned, she really has it together. Remember, she voted one way as a private citizen and the other way as a Council member. As to voters answering "WHY" they voted as they did, simply it is not even proper to ask that question. We as voters vote the way that we feel is best and it is not the business of the press to even ask us why we voted the way we did!

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Fred Duckels 3 years, 6 months ago

In the long run I don't think the vote mattered much one way or the other. The economy will dictate and the developers would need considerble time before moving ahead. In my opinion the community will never get a deal like this again as the developers promised way too much. I don't think they can afford to be in put in this position again. I think our planning was fine but this was a fluke situation, much like the last presidential election.

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housepoor 3 years, 6 months ago

Keep building your road Fred , your welcome, the tax payers, we'll be waiting for you thank you note

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pitpoodle 3 years, 6 months ago

Here's a novel thought. Instead of trying to figure out why voters didn't agree with the way City Council voted on SB 700, how about if City Council members actually talk to constituents about an issue before they place a vote. Talking to voters in advance of a huge quality-of-life-altering change would make more sense than initially siding with an out-of-town developer and believing city staff's analysis (paid for by the same developer to do their work). The vote mattered. Residents had their say.

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