Council to act on 2010 budget |

Council to act on 2010 budget

City’s financial plan is up for final approval tonight

Mike Lawrence

— Steamboat Springs City Council could give final approval tonight to the 2010 budget, a new franchise agreement with Comcast and regulations allowing urban chickens.

The agenda also includes the return of an ordinance regulating medical marijuana dispensaries in Steamboat Springs. City Council has dealt with the issue since enacting a moratorium on the approval and operation of dispensaries in August. The ordinance before council tonight is identical to one that council approved Nov. 3, as an emergency measure to continue regulations while providing proper public notice.

The ordinance presented for first reading tonight contains criteria for dispensaries including no signs advertising marijuana on the premises; no signs using the word "marijuana" or its synonyms, or depictions of any portion of the plant; no drive-up windows or unsupervised transactions; and no location within 500 feet of any public or parochial school, or the principal campus of any college or university.

City Council President Cari Hermacinski questioned whether the sign criteria would just encourage creative advertising from dispensary operators.

"Aren't we just forcing them to be even more crude with how they would reference it?" she said Monday. "It's a new ordinance, and it's really uncharted territory all over the state."

Hermacinski said she expects medical marijuana advocates to speak at tonight's meeting, which begins at 5 p.m. at Centennial Hall.

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Operators of D and C Medical Marijuana, LLC and Therapeutic Massage and Rocky Mountain Remedies could not be reached late Monday.

A second and potentially final reading of the medical marijuana ordinance is scheduled for Dec. 15.

Tonight could see final approval of the city's 2010 budget. The $39.5 million budget includes an operating budget with $22.7 million in expenditures, down from $26.4 million in general fund expenditures just two years ago, in 2008.

New council member Kenny Reisman said he is concerned about proposed cuts to fire department training.

"I just think that has to become a huge priority for us, just to figure out ways to beef up those numbers," he said.

One funding source, Reisman said, could be the new franchise agreement with Comcast. The 10-year agreement includes a 1 percent franchise fee increase — from 3 to 4 percent — that city staff estimates would raise about $45,000 for the city per year, at an annual cost of about $25 per subscriber.

The City Council also will address tonight the second and potentially final reading of an ordinance that would allow as many as five chicken hens in some of the city's residential districts, and regulate such use. City planner Bob Keenan said in September that the ordinance was crafted in response to local requests and a local food movement across the country.

Finally, City Council will receive a certificate of sufficiency from City Clerk Julie Franklin regarding the petition submitted by the Let's Vote group seeking a public vote on the Steamboat 700 annexation.

Steamboat 700 is a 487-acre annexation approved by the Steamboat Springs City Council on Oct. 13 in a 4-3 vote. It proposes about 2,000 homes and 380,000 square feet of commercial space just west of the current city limits.

Following the successful petition effort, the City Council is scheduled to decide Dec. 15 whether to repeal the ordinance that approved Steamboat 700 or put the annexation to a public vote.

If you go

What: Steamboat Springs City Council meeting

When: 5 p.m. today

Where: Centennial Hall, 124 10th St.

Contact: Call city offices at 879-2060

Petition tally

Presentation of a certificate of sufficiency for the petition submitted by the Let’s Vote group, seeking a public vote on the Steamboat 700 annexation, is one of the final items on tonight’s City Council agenda. The certificate by City Clerk Julie Franklin includes the following figures:

■ Number of petition documents submitted — 57

■ Number of petition documents examined — 38

■ Number of signatures examined — 1,227

■ Number of signatures verified — 963

■ Number of signatures required, by registered electors — 829

The City Council is scheduled to decide Dec. 15 whether to repeal the ordinance that approved the Steamboat 700 annexation or put that approval to a public vote.

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