Steamboat City Council debates holding closed-door meeting about west Steamboat annexation
June 5, 2017
A majority of the Steamboat Springs City Council appears interested in going behind closed doors to review detailed financial information and cost estimates for the new neighborhoods Brynn Grey Partners wants to get annexed in west Steamboat.
But a pair of council members are opposed to such a meeting and have concerns about how it might be perceived by the public.
The information Brynn Grey wants to share privately with the council includes construction cost estimates, land acquisition details on the former Steamboat 700 property and the amount of money development team members are making off of the development.
Council members who support the idea of the private meeting, which would come in the form of an executive session or a pair of council members meeting privately with city staff to review the financials, think it will help the council decide whether to grant the developers significant concessions to make the new housing units a reality.
The two council members who oppose such a meeting think the developers should share as much as they can publicly.
Council President Walter Magill is concerned by the idea of going behind closed doors to look at the company's financial projections. He fears such a meeting would make the council appear to be "too tight" with the developers.
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He also thinks a closed-door meeting could back the council into a corner when it would have to come out of the meeting and potentially try to sell an annexation deal to the public based on information it could not review.
"I appreciate that you want to be transparent and also be protected,” Magill told the developers last week. "But I can't sit up here and make decisions on something that I have seen up here with six others in a closed room that I'm not supposed to talk about and then come out here and say it's a great" deal.
In recent days, Magill has expressed frustration with the limited amount of detail Brynn Grey has been sharing about its proposal to build 444 units in west Steamboat.
“We’ve seen a lot of fluff,” Magill said.
Magill added, that to his knowledge, no city council had ever met privately to review a developer’s financial projections prior to considering approval of a project.
In this case, Brynn Grey is seeking an annexation that would impact Steamboat and its taxpayers. Councilwoman Heather Sloop joined Magill in expressing opposition to a closed-door meeting with the developers.
"I don't want to be the person saying 'trust us, we're good,’" Sloop said.
A majority of other council members saw the issue differently.
Councilman Jason Lacy said looking at Brynn Grey's numbers would help inform the council as to whether the city needs to make concessions and trade-offs to foster the development.
"They're asking for many millions of dollars in trade-offs, " Lacy said. "I don't want this to be anymore expensive for Brynn Grey or the community than it has to be."
Councilwoman Lisel Petis said it would be remiss of the council not to accept Brynn Grey's offer to see their numbers. And Councilman Scott Ford suggested the council delegate two members to meet privately with Brynn Grey.
The council has started using this delegating strategy more and more in recent months to discuss some issues privately and behind the scenes, including an incentive pay program for City Manager Gary Suiter.
The council was about to take a straw poll vote on whether to arrange a private meeting with the developers before Magill expressed his concerns.
The council moved onto other topics before deciding whether or not the meeting will happen.
Brynn Grey raised the prospect of sharing its financial information with city staff and the council, saying they were offering an “extraordinary” and “unprecedented” level of transparency.
What do you think? Would you want the council to have an executive session to look over the developers confidential financial information? Leave a comment.