Steamboat Springs The Steamboat Springs Parks and Recreation Commission will suspend waiving fees for users of city fields, facilities and rooms until after the City Council can discuss it further.
The topic emerged Tuesday night when Steamboat Springs City Council member Scott Myller mentioned a discussion from last week’s Parks and Recreation Commission meeting about the Steamboat Mountain Soccer Tournament requesting a fee waiver. Myller said Parks and Recreation Commission members were uncomfortable with the idea of waiving a fee instead of passing that responsibility to City Council.
Some council members didn’t know the commission had authority to waive fees.
City Council member Cari Hermacinski said the policy surprised her. She said that the only commission mentioned in the city’s charter is the Steamboat Springs Planning Commission and that during her nine years serving in public office (including five on the Planning Commission) it never recommend a fee waiver.
“That was always something that came directly to the council,” Hermacinski said. “They didn’t even weigh in on it.”
Parks, Open Space and Recreational Services Department Director Chris Wilson, who said Tuesday that the Parks and Recreation Commission would suspend waiving any fees, explained that the city’s municipal code permits the commission to waive fees under the direction of the city manager.
That was news to City Manager Jon Roberts.
“I would not be personally or professionally comfortable with any member of staff, including the city manager, to have the authority to waive any fees or give away any city assets without the City Council’s approval,” he said. “If the municipal code says it’s under the direction of the city manager, I’m not familiar with that.”
Wilson said the Parks and Recreation Commission’s authority to waive fees stemmed from a City Council decision.
“What has happened is those used to come to council,” he said. “There was a number of them, and (the) council said, ‘We don’t have the time or the interest to make a recommendation on all of these,’ and it was passed to Parks and Rec Commission.”
City Council member Walter Magill said he thought a fee waiver might allow the Steamboat Mountain Soccer Tournament to provide scholarships for some participants. He added that Winter Carnival organizers don’t pay the city to close streets or the cost that it takes to do that.
Hermacinski said not assessing fees for Winter Carnival has been a City Council decision, not one made by the Parks and Recreation Commission.
City Council President Bart Kounovsky said he thought issues such as waiving fees should be brought to the council.
Myller said he brought up the fee waiver discussion to see whether there was support to bypass the Parks and Recreation Commission and allow City Council to make the final decision.
“I know that was the plan,” he said. “They were given an advisory position, and we would have the ultimate say. It was so awkward for them that maybe we just need to cut it out right here.”
Wilson said the Parks and Recreation Commission would have another discussion before putting the issue on the March 20 City Council agenda for further deliberation.
To reach Jack Weinstein, call 970-871-4203 or email jweinstein@SteamboatToday.com