Remember that classic Abbott and Costello routine “Who’s on first?” It seems the Steamboat Springs City Council is providing us with a crude re-enactment: “Let’s put it here.” “No, let’s put it there.” “No, wait a minute, let’s knock that building down and put it there.”
Maybe it’s a police station, public service building or a combination of all of the above. Who knows? Then we’ll fiddle with the sales contract this way; oh no, let’s try that way. Who is getting confused? What’s holding steady at second waiting for a wild pitch — something like the “Iron Horse purchase-Ski Time Square redevelopment-Downhill Drive road to nowhere” game winner?
What profit and loss business person with a functioning location would sell his or her current place of business for less than market value while not having a place to move the business? It would be the double whammy of not only throwing away equity but artificially putting himself or herself “under the gun” to rush to find a new business location. Only the ever-fatuous nature of government could concoct such a cockamamie scheme.
City Attorney Tony Lettunich unknowingly provided a wonderful solution to the conundrum when he said state statute prohibits the signing of a sales contract sooner than 30 days after a vote because the public has a right to petition for a referendum. So, after City Council takes a final vote on the contract, let’s have a public referendum on the contract. After all, it’s our property that council wants to sell and our money that council wants to spend. We the people should have the final say.
Now, in order for council to have some “skin” in the game other than OPM (other peoples’ money), and if it is so confident in the merit of its plan and the “marketing” of the plan to the citizenry, it should make a public commitment: If the referendum passes, all well and good, the city is “golden” and can move ahead forthwith with the execution of the sales contract. If it fails, those council members who voted in favor of the plan will resign their seat on council. So, are they all hat and no cattle? Let’s find out.