Steamboat Springs City Council members, from left, Tony Connell, Scott Myller and Sonja Macys weigh which objectives they want to endorse. The council talked about goals and objectives for the coming years at a retreat in Centennial Hall earlier this month.

Photo by Scott Franz

Steamboat Springs City Council members, from left, Tony Connell, Scott Myller and Sonja Macys weigh which objectives they want to endorse. The council talked about goals and objectives for the coming years at a retreat in Centennial Hall earlier this month.

Goal setting a work in progress for Steamboat City Council

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Steamboat Springs City Council objectives

• We serve as a community leader in sustainability by conducting daily operations with a focus on resource efficiency, cost effectiveness and respect for the natural environment.

• We attract and retain excellent employees at all levels and provide the city manager and city attorney strategic direction for their actions.

• We provide responsible financial management and fiscal stewardship for the city of Steamboat Springs.

• We maintain and improve core services for the citizens and visitors of the city of Steamboat Springs.

• We will develop a measurable strategic plan that integrates key elements from adopted city plans and policies.

— The Steamboat Springs City Council on Tuesday night threw out more than 30 potential goals and objectives it could tackle during the next 18 months that ranged from building a new police station to redeveloping the downtown corridor.

But with such a diverse set of viewpoints on the council, and only four hours to work with, members and facilitator Todd Musselman decided first to agree on five broader objectives for the body.

It was a task that took several poster boards and a lot of deliberation to accomplish.

“This process takes time, and it's messy,” Musselman said in the middle of the the retreat held at Centennial Hall. “This isn't the end.”

The five objectives council agreed to Tuesday included things such as having the council become a leader in sustainability and working on a new, more detailed strategic plan that would incorporate the work of dozens of city studies that already have been completed.

Musselman said the process was a start to better informing City Manager Deb Hinsvark what this council's priorities are.

After all of the goals and objectives were propped up on large pieces of paper, council members were given four votes on the items that were deemed to be objectives.

They then spent about an hour coming up with exact wording for each of the most popular objectives.

It became clear as the work session progressed that the current council holds some diverse views about several topics.

New council member Tony Connell, for example, said it was his view that the council manages all city employees because the council ultimately adopts the budget that includes all of the payroll.

However, a majority of council members were not comfortable entertaining any new objective that would go against the current city charter that clearly states the council only has direct oversight of the city manager and the city attorney.

Council members agreed that the deliberation and the disagreement ultimately could make it a stronger body in the end.

“We're stronger when we deliberate,” new council member Scott Ford said.

In the middle of the work session, some council members did express a desire to soon tackle more specific topics.

Council President Pro-Tem Scott Myller said the body needed a better way to discuss sensitive information that is "not ready for the newspaper."

“We've got to figure out how to communicate,” Myller said. “We'll be spinning our tails forever until we figure out a new way to meet, either in executive session or in work sessions.”

Council member Walter Magill said he wanted to start talking about specific goals for city staff, including the possibility of having staff and Steamboat's volunteer Parks and Recreation Commission look into the possibility of opening Rita Valentine Park to more recreational uses.

Asked to reflect on the work session at the end of the night, all of the council members said they found value in the retreat.

But multiple council members shared Magill's desire to soon come up with a more specific set of goals for the coming years.

Magill said he thinks that city staff who would read about the work session Wednesday still wouldn't know how to please the council.

“I'm looking forward to the goals,” he said.

The council will revisit the objectives they came up with at the retreat during the next council meeting March 18.

Musselman suggested the body then break into smaller groups at a public meeting and start to talk about the specific goals they want to accomplish.

“We're just scratching the surface,” he said.

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210, email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ScottFranz10

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Comments

Thomss Steele 8 months, 2 weeks ago

Our city council "needs to find a way to communicate with each other"?!?! They dismissed 30 proposals because they don't know how to talk to one another. Anyone else find this absurd?

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Scott Ford 8 months, 2 weeks ago

Good Morning Thomas – In this context the quote from Scott Myller, lifted by the paper, ties back that during regularly scheduled City Council meetings the ‘rules of order’ City Council operates under is not conducive to an active free flowing give-n-take between council members and/or the public/staff. (This formality is something I am still getting used to.)

In the past City Council had scheduled Work Session. Currently the Planning Commission has monthly Work Sessions where a topic is discussed in greater depth and there is opportunity for staff/public/planning commissioners to have an informal exchange with each other.
The benefit of a Work Session is that information is exchanged, questions clarified, opinions expressed and greater learning about an issue takes place. A Work Session is not bound by the formality associated with a regularly scheduled meeting. As a follow up to a Work Session often staff is given direction to get more information and/or return with a “motion” to be considered at a future regularly scheduled meeting.

I appreciate the sentiment Scott Myller expressed. Learning about things of ‘public interest’, in the paper before they have been “deliberated” by City Council is a goofy. I am optimistic City Council will return to the practice of using Work Sessions. (Although I am a member of City Council, I want to stress that the views expressed in this posting are my own and may or may not be shared by other members of City Council or staff.)

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Scott Wedel 8 months, 2 weeks ago

Even Scott Ford's statement on " I am optimistic City Council will return to the practice of using Work Sessions." is absurd because there is nothing stopping any of them from doing it. Any of them could announce they will be in a public location where they will review upcoming meeting materials along with whatever else and would welcome any public comment on those and other city related issues.

It is past time to be "optimistic" and time to do it. No one cares if the the city manager and some of the city council can't or won't show up. If all that can be done in 4 hours as a group is figure out the wording of 5 generic principles then maybe it is better if not all of them show up for work sessions.

The public would be well served if there was a work session now on the proposed police station design. By sheer luck, one of these days the city will find a suitable location. And then the question will become what sort of station is going to be built. Instead of the city council failing to communicate on that topic until a decision is needed urgently, maybe they could consider asking questions now. How many meeting rooms and for what purposes? Is it possible to have multi-purpose meeting rooms? Does the police chief need all that for an office? Do we want to reduce construction costs by isolating the critical functions into one building with the extra rigorous building codes and build a connected support building with all the other functions? How large and nice of an entrance and lobby is needed?

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Scott Ford 8 months, 2 weeks ago

Hi Scott W – You are absolutely right! It is my understanding there is nothing stopping us from having work sessions as often and on any subject as we wish. It simply takes planning and some coordination. The practical value of a work session occurs when staff has the opportunity to prepare and when the greatest number of Council Members can attend. I am working toward the goal of having City Council Work Sessions that are productive. All of this may not happen as fast as you would like – but we will get there – that I am “optimistic” of.

(Although I am a member of City Council, I want to stress that the views expressed in this posting are my own and may or may not be shared by other members of City Council or staff.)

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