Election Guide: Steamboat Springs City Council District 2 candidate Bart Kounovsky
October 13, 2011
Occupation: Colorado Group Realty chief operating officer
Prior political experience: Appointed to City Council in summer 2010
Hometown: Fargo, N.D.
Years in Steamboat: 20
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Family: Wife, Nancy; children, Kyle, a freshman at Colorado State University, and Carter, a sophomore at Steamboat Springs High School
Civic Involvement: Current — Family Development Center Board of Directors treasurer; Steamboat Springs High School Band Booster Club Board; Member of the Steamboat Springs Community Band. Past — Steamboat Golf Club Board of Directors treasurer; Concordia Lutheran Church president; Steamboat Springs Nordic Council Board of Directors; Citizens Committee, Steamboat Springs City Manager Search Committee; Mainstreet Steamboat Springs Economic Restructuring Committee; youth activities including coaching Little League baseball and basketball, and Cub Scouts pack scoutmaster
(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. Although different than most Colorado communities, I believe that our sales-tax-based funding structure works for Steamboat Springs. The quick drop in sales tax income forced our council to make quick and decisive adjustments to the city budget.
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. The strategic use of reserve funds is always an option for the council. Although great work has been done on the general fund budget, in future years funding for the Capital Improvements Program budget will be a challenge. It appears that funding to maintain our city assets will have to come from a combination of reserves and transfers from the general fund. Except for the closing of city offices on Fridays, there have been no real impacts to city services. The next step that will need to occur is an analysis of services that the city provides, to assess if all of those services are best provided by the city, or could be provided to the citizens by a private organization, or even a city/private organization partnership.
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. I believe it is clear that the city has had a longstanding agreement with the chamber to fund the summer marketing program. As part of this support, the city will need to be a participant at the table when the chamber formulates a plan to explore, locate and secure additional funding options for summer marketing.
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 the Bike Town USA initiative is something the community needs to continue to invest in. The council needs to continue to support this initiative not just with dollars out of the budget, but also with education and staff time when needed. It has been wonderful that this initiative has been a bottom-up, initiative coming from the community.
Q. Do you support a ban of medical marijuana businesses in Steamboat? Why or why not?
A. As a city council member, I did vote against a ban on medical marijuana businesses in the city. I feel that since the voters of Steamboat Springs, Routt County and the state of Colorado approved the constitutional amendment on medical marijuana, the voters of Steamboat Springs should have the final say on whether they approve of the manner in which the state has regulated this process. I believe that the actions of the City Council to place the matter in front of the voters, led the way for both Routt County and Oak Creek to do likewise.
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 support the airline tax to supplement winter air service. Without a doubt we need to keep as many seats as we can to help our winter tourist season. I feel the five-year sunset period is very appropriate and will cause this issue to be revisited again by the community.
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. Not really applicable for me, as I am a current council member.
Q. List your top three priorities as a council member and how you propose to accomplish them.
A. • City Budget — Focus on Capital Improvement Plan funding. Also a detailed look to see if the services that city is providing are appropriate to be provided by the city, or if some other entity could provide those services in a better manner. We also need to focus on technology efficiencies that can be gained in our departments.
• Economic Development — Continue to ensure that the city provides excellent services. A beautiful, well run, financially solid city will be the best economic driver for attracting visitors and businesses.
• Bike Town USA Initiative — Continued with work with the community group to ensure that this initiative is moved forward.
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. As stated before, the best thing the city can do is to make sure we are well run, both service-wise and financially, with the ability to continue to make expenditures to support our infrastructure.
Nancy and I have lived in Steamboat for over 20 years. We have had the opportunity to raise our family in this wonderful community. I want to make sure that our young families continue to enjoy the same opportunity we have had. I have enjoyed my one-year of service on the council and look forward to serving for four more years. If you have any questions or comments of me please feel free to contact me at City Hall. Thank you for your support and I would appreciate your vote.