Election Guide: Steamboat Springs City Council at-large candidate Kevin Kaminski
October 13, 2011
Occupation: President, B & K Distributing, Inc.
Prior political experience: Steamboat Springs City Council (2005-06)
Hometown: Steamboat Springs
Years in Steamboat: 38
Family: Wife, Kelly; son Kylen, 14; daughter Keely, 9
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Civic Involvement: Ski Town USA Rotary Club member and past president (2009); Grand Knight, Knights of Columbus Council 4462
(please limit answers to 100 words each)
Q. The city has had to make drastic budget cuts recently. Does this speak to a need for changes to the city’s tax structure? If so, what changes? If not, why is the current tax structure appropriate?
A. Unfortunately, tax structures lend themselves to being confusing; ours is no exception. The city's structure is heavily dependent on sales tax with low property taxes compared to other towns our size. The citizens have been asked to change this structure in the past; it was rejected. Thanks to the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights, the current system won't be changing anytime soon. While this may not be a perfect system, we must remember that locals are having 60 to 70 percent of our habits and services paid for by our guests. Locals don't pay the entire bill in the form of higher property taxes.
Q. Given that difficult budget decisions loom for the third straight year, should the city consider using reserves, which the city has built up to about 40 percent of general fund expenditures, instead of just cutting services? If so, which budget line items should be given priority? If not, which line items should be the first to go?
A. There will be much to learn about the city's current budget. It will take a little time to find out what areas can realize cuts. I also know that my company's greatest asset, as well as any successful company and this city's, is its employees. No company or organization can survive without strong, consistent and hard-working employees. Payroll shouldn't be the easy target. Reserves should be used for emergencies and logical opportunities, not for operational shortfalls. Cuts are never easy and will make somebody unhappy, but they will be a reality if the bottom line can't be met.
Q. To what degree should the city fund the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association’s summer marketing efforts? What is the appropriate role for city government in tourism promotion?
A. The city of Steamboat Springs needs to continue a strong relationship with all of its current business partners, including the chamber. The chamber works with local businesses with the goal of increasing economic diversity and sales. As long as our income is tied to sales tax, the dollars invested with our business partners are a direct investment in increasing our income source (sales tax). A year-round, sustainable economy is a quest/goal that will be unachievable without strong partnerships. Anything we can do to help increase our revenues to ease up on budget shortfalls should be looked at very seriously.
Q. The city spent more than $2.2 million on bike-related efforts in 2011, including the more than $763,000 purchase of the Orton property and nearly $817,000 for the West Lincoln Avenue bridge and trail. Was that money well spent? Why or why not? Would you fund future bike-related efforts? To what extent?
A. I believe that our community has done a wonderful job of helping create a summer market and destination for the biking industry. The timing and amounts may be scrutinized but I would need more information to be able to judge those overall decisions. For instance, the purchase of the Orton property and the West Lincoln Avenue bridge and trail benefit many other forms of recreation in addition to biking. If non-allocated funds are available to increase recreational opportunities and the projects have strong local support then I will likely support those efforts.
Q. Do you support a ban of medical marijuana businesses in Steamboat? Why or why not?
A. Medical marijuana is the current Pandora's Box. I understand and support its use for ailing patients. Unfortunately, I believe that many are taking advantage of the new laws. The current structure is flawed and obviously broken. The industry itself needs to start cracking down on these flaws and they need to begin to truly regulate themselves or else government organizations will do the regulating for them, which is rarely helpful for any industry. Medical marijuana will constantly be on the radar, and we as a city need to be aware of it in order determine its impacts on our community.
Q. Do you support a 0.25 percent sales tax, for a period of five years, to supplement the winter air service program at Yampa Valley Regional Airport? Why or why not?
A. I do support a 0.25 percent sales tax with a five-year sunset to supplement the year-round air service into the YVRA. I believe, once again due to our sales tax structure, that this tax increase has a direct and measurable return on investment. Without air service into this valley, we would lose convenience and a major lifeline to business, therefore severing our sales revenue source. We are a destination and therefore we must do everything we can do to work with our partners to minimize the distance and create the convenience for locals and our guests.
Q. Identify a decision the current council has made that you agree with, and one that you disagree with. What would you have done instead?
A. For decisions any past council has made, there was a large amount of information that we were not privy to. The public constantly agrees and disagrees without being informed. I will speak from my past experience on City Council. I don't think that the council is designed to micro-manage the city. The city manager is the CEO and that is his job. The council is put together to provide direction. We also have to recognize situations versus actual problems. We should focus on solving actual problems, and not attempt to solve each and every situation that occurs.
Q. List your top three priorities as a council member and how you propose to accomplish them.
A. My priorities are, a) strengthen the partnerships that have made this community successful, b) attempt to break down some of the barriers/hurdles that have been put in the way of construction/new business by our city's processes and, c) to bring common sense and business experience to the table. The new council will have to expediently and efficiently learn how the city operates before we can give new direction. We must understand completely what is working and not working today. In summary, we need to gain knowledge, come up with a plan to improve, gain support, and then move to improve.
Q. What should be the city’s role in economic development? What steps, if any, would you recommend the city take to help improve the local economy?
A. I know I sounds like a broken record, but we are a sales-tax-driven community. Therefore, the city is only helping itself out when it extends a helping hand to economic development. The city needs to loosen up on some of its current policies that are choking the very same business community that it needs in order to survive. The city needs to be a partner that businesses want to and enjoy dealing with. They don't want the constant roadblocks and stop signs that some of our current city policies are creating.
Steamboat Springs is my hometown. I am blessed with a beautiful family and home in this valley. I was lucky my parents gave me the opportunity to run a successful business in this wonderful community. I look forward to taking the challenge again of shaping this incredibly diverse and active community. I will listen, I will learn, I will let you know where I stand, and most important, I will make an educated decision. You may agree some of the time, you may disagree some of the time, but I will do my best to represent the interest of the community at-large. I am not a politician. I am a businessman, and more important, I am a citizen of Steamboat Springs, just like you. I am willing to take the time and accept this sometimes difficult and often overwhelming challenge.
I would appreciate your vote for the at-large seat on the City Council of Steamboat Springs.