In other business
•City Council voted not to raise its monthly pay as allowed by law
•Voted 5-2 to endorse adding Steamboat’s downtown historic district to the National Register of Historic Places
•Tabled a vote on a development permit for a 42-unit apartment building planned for the corner of Whistler Road and Skyview Terrace
Steamboat Springs Steamboat Springs City Council isn’t ready yet to take the next step toward selling its public safety building and wants to put a little more sting into the deal to make sure the local outdoor industry businesses that are close to purchasing the building will be the primary occupant.
Council agreed Tuesday night to put off a second and final reading of the ordinance enabling the sale of its public safety building at 840 Yampa St. to BAP, Big Agnes and Honey Stinger for $2.1 million until Feb. 5.
Council was scheduled for the final vote on the sales contract at its Jan. 22 meeting. However, the delay was put in place by a unanimous vote, allowing city staff time to go back to the buyers and seek new contract language. The new language would impose cash penalties on the new owners should they not live up to a contract clause that calls on them to occupy at least half of the building during their first seven years of ownership.
Councilwoman Cari Hermacinski persuaded her fellow council members that existing language might not be strong enough to be of use to a future City Council if Big Agnes wasn’t living up to those terms. As written, the contract would have allowed the city to buy back the building for the original price plus the value of capital improvements made by the new owners after seven years if they weren’t occupying at least half of the building.
If the option to re-purchase the building doesn’t make financial sense in 2020, Hermacinski pointed out, another city council wouldn’t have any leverage to require compliance. So, she proposed asking staff to develop an additional series of fines called liquidated damages to be imposed each year for seven years if Big Agnes isn’t making adequate use of the building.
“They would owe us money if they violate the terms of the contract and we don’t exercise the option of buying the building back,” Hermacinski said. “If we aren’t going to buy it back, they have to pay liquidated damages,” with the city also having the ability to impose a deed of trust on the property “that would cloud the title.”
The unspecified amount of the fines would be reduced in each successive year.
Council President Bart Kounovsky told Hermacinski he did not object to asking City Attorney Tony Lettunich to explore the proposed new contract provision with representatives of Big Agnes. The delayed vote on the sales contract means the tentative closing date, last scheduled for March 1, will now be moved back more than 30 days and probably 45 days beyond Feb. 5, Lettunich said.
Lettunich confirmed that state law prohibits City Council from signing the sale contract sooner than 30 days after the vote because the public has a right to petition the ordinance onto a referendum that would require voter approval.
Councilman Walter Magill said it would suit him if the closing date was pushed back even further.
“This closing date – to move it out as far out as I can get consensus to move it, I’d like to move it,” Magill said. He told his fellow council members he thinks they should pay closer attention to what he called growing opposition to the sale among members of the public. However, other members of council couldn’t see a reason to delay the closing once the second reading of the ordinance is approved.
“What does moving this to April 15 do?” councilman Kenny Reisman said.
In a related matter, Hermacinski gained her colleagues’ approval for asking city staff to research the impacts of building new police and fire stations on the existing capital improvements plan.
Hermacinski pointed out that the goal of building the two new facilities has been acknowledged but left off the six-year capital improvement plan for a number of years – essentially parked in the on-deck circle – until some city council attaches greater importance to them. She believes the city has an obligation to understand the impacts on other capital needs if police and fire buildings are moved up in priority.
“No matter what we say about the sale of the Yampa Street building, it’s a violation of our duty to the general public to move forward with this without the exercise of redoing the (Capital Improvement Plan),” Hermacinski said.
The other council members did not express any disagreement and will take up the discussion Jan. 22.
To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205 or email tross@SteamboatToday.com