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More in Election Guide 2011
Occupation: Real estate broker/investor
Prior political experience: None
Hometown: Steamboat Springs
Years in Steamboat: 23
Family: Daughter, Aaryn
Civic involvement: LIFT-UP of Routt County Board of Directors (2011 to present); Legislative Policy Committee, Colorado Association of Realtors (2011 to present); Vice President, Steamboat Springs Board of Realtors; and local church ministries (1993 to present).
(please limit answers to 100 words each)
Q. The city has had to make drastic budget cuts recently. Does this speak to a need for changes to the city's tax structure? If so, what changes? If not, why is the current tax structure appropriate?
A. I believe the existing tax structure is adequate. Additional taxes, such as a property tax, would only lead to further financial burdens on locals. In addition, it would make second-homeownership in Steamboat less attractive. This could lead to further erosion of real estate values in Steamboat. The existing sales tax model can continue to work so long as a conservative approach is taken with the budget. A priority should be placed on building and maintaining adequate reserves so that in lean years, such as we are experiencing now, critical services can be maintained.
Q. Given that difficult budget decisions loom for the third straight year, should the city consider using reserves, which the city has built up to about 40 percent of general fund expenditures, instead of just cutting services? If so, which budget line items should be given priority? If not, which line items should be the first to go?
A. Reserves should be held for and used only in dire emergencies. While 40 percent sounds like a big number, it would fund the city for less than five months if all other revenue disappeared. It appears to me that we may be able to budget for 2012 at about the same number as 2011. This should allow us to maintain all critical services and staffing levels. If the trend of increasing sales tax revenue continues through the end of 2012, we could supplement the budget. I am willing to look at all segments of the budget to identify potential savings.
Q. To what degree should the city fund the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association's summer marketing efforts? What is the appropriate role for city government in tourism promotion?
A. Given that sales tax is the primary revenue source for Steamboat, and we are largely a tourism-based economy, I think it is appropriate for the city to participate in marketing efforts to the extent that they provide a good return on investment. In 2011, the city budgeted $525,000 for summer marketing, or about 3.6 percent of the projected sales tax revenue for 2011. I would be willing to increase this percentage and see if it produces a measurable increase in sales tax revenue.
Q. The city spent more than $2.2 million on bike-related efforts in 2011, including the more than $763,000 purchase of the Orton property and nearly $817,000 for the West Lincoln Avenue bridge and trail. Was that money well spent? Why or why not? Would you fund future bike-related efforts? To what extent?
A. While the expenditures in 2011 are quite large, they will serve our community for years to come and will prove to be money well spent. I will support future bike-related efforts such as the Bike Town USA Initiative. A more bike-friendly community will lead to less traffic, safer biking routes, healthier lifestyle options, greater recreational opportunities, increased tourism and job growth. Funding for the initiative should be contingent upon an educational and enforcement component to insure that bikers are aware of and follow safe biking practices.
Q. Do you support a ban of medical marijuana businesses in Steamboat? Why or why not?
A. Amendment 20, in addition to providing medical marijuana for those who need it, has also led to a well-documented increase in recreational use and abuse. I believe medical users should be able to obtain the drug locally, but perhaps ultimately under an improved “pharmacy” model. If the people of Colorado want legalized marijuana for any use, they will vote for it in 2012 when it will likely be on the ballot. In the meantime, if the federal government doesn’t shut them down for breaking federal law, I would not shut down businesses operating within the state law.
Q. Do you support a 0.25 percent sales tax, for a period of five years, to supplement the winter air service program at Yampa Valley Regional Airport? Why or why not?
A. Had I been on council when this was considered, I would have exhausted all non-tax options before approving this for the ballot. However, I can support it for the following reasons: The reduction in available seats from a high of about 160,000 to a projected low of 80,000 could be devastating. The tax expires in five years and in that period we can identify other long-term solutions. The projected cost for a family of four is less than $50 per year, about the amount you might spend driving to Denver because you couldn’t get a flight out of Hayden.
Q. Identify a decision the current council has made that you agree with, and one that you disagree with. What would you have done instead?
A. I agreed with the decision to not implement a 20-cent plastic bag fee. I believe the people of Steamboat can, and are, reducing their plastic use without government intervention.
I disagreed with the decision to purchase the Iron Horse Inn for employee housing (Editor’s note: The Iron Horse Inn purchase was not made by the current council). I don’t believe it is the government’s job to own and manage housing. The objective now is to find a solution to reduce the drain that the Iron Horse has on the city’s budget. I will seek out creative solutions with the private sector that might allow the Iron Horse to be managed with less negative cash flow.
Q. List your top three priorities as a council member and how you propose to accomplish them.
A. • Be more proactive about planning for Steamboat’s future. That includes addressing traffic, parking, and future development — identifying locations for downtown parking facilities and a secondary access road and completing updates to the city’s community development plan.
• Create an environment at the city that fosters and encourages new programs, events, businesses and development that will add to Steamboat’s economic base while maintaining our existing character.
• Protect and promote our economic assets such as the Yampa River, Western heritage, Ski Town USA brand and the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club.
These goals can be accomplished by fostering a cooperative effort between the city and community members.
Q. What should be the city's role in economic development? What steps, if any, would you recommend the city take to help improve the local economy?
A. The city’s primary role in fostering economic development is to make sure that Steamboat is a place that welcomes those who wish to invest their capital in our community. What is and isn’t acceptable to the people of Steamboat Springs needs to be well defined so that those wishing to bring their businesses here can easily ascertain what will be expected of them. A secondary function of the city is in providing support to local organizations that promote and market our community. Cooperative efforts with the Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp., the chamber and Mainstreet Steamboat Springs will foster economic growth.
In 1988, I moved to Steamboat to fulfill my dream of living in a ski town. For the last 23 years I have run my own businesses, been actively involved in the community and enjoyed all that Steamboat has to offer.
I am running for City Council because I want to do my part to insure that Steamboat remains a community that offers great economic opportunity and a high quality of life for its residents, while retaining its status as a world-class destination resort.
In the coming years I would like to see City Council be proactive in dealing with issues like traffic, parking, and planning for growth. If Steamboat is to remain the type of place we all know and love, we must stay out in front of these types of issues that, if left unattended, could negatively impact our quality of life.
I’d like to bring my commonsense approach, community values and business experience to the City Council. If elected, you can rest assured that I will work diligently to ensure that Steamboat remains one of the greatest places on earth to live and to visit. I would appreciate your vote in the coming election.