City Council District 1: Having know-how
District 1 candidates have political experience
A four-year Steamboat Springs City Council incumbent and a former city employee say they have the experience and knowledge it takes to hold the District I seat.
G.H. “Bud” Romberg, a retired schoolteacher, is seeking a second, four-year term in District I. His challenger is Susan Dellinger, who was a 10-year member of the city staff until starting her own computer mapping business last year.
Romberg, who has held seats on the city Planning Commission and Steamboat Springs School Board, said he is not a one-issue candidate and does not serve any special interests. The 37-year resident of Steamboat said he wanted to continue his work on creating a multi-jurisdictional housing authority, seeing the community plan through and bringing the city and Mount Werner Water and Sanitation District together.
“People have two ways of supporting things they believe in, ” Romberg said. “It is with dollars, or it is with time. And I was never in the position to spend a lot of dollars, and so I spend a lot of time.”
A Colorado native, Dellinger came to Steamboat in 1993 to take the Geographic Information System developer job for the city.
In that position for 10 years, Dellinger said she knows how the city operates and has hands-on experience with the budget process. She also has a background of communicating with the public. She believes the public is not being heard.
“We have gone through a lot of trouble to involve the community. We have focus groups, we have surveys, and we have worked a lot to get them involved. And then, I hear the leadership say, ‘Thanks so much’ and not use it,” Dellinger said. “People stop talking. They think they are not being heard anymore.”
Romberg defends the city’s decision to ask voters to approve a 3.55-mill property tax in November, while Dellinger said the city has misplaced its priorities.
The tax, Romberg said, would secure a guaranteed revenue source for essential fire and ambulance services and free up money in the general fund for what he calls much-needed capital improvements.
Romberg said the city has been extremely frugal and spends 30 percent less per capita than Avon, Basalt, Silverthorne, Aspen, Telluride and Snowmass. With declining sales tax revenues, Romberg said the city could not maintain its current level of services.
“In order for locals to be able to get the same thing, we either have to charge tourists more, increase the number of tourists or locals have to step up and pay more,” Romberg said.
At Tuesday’s budget hearing, Romberg was one of four council members to support spending $100,000 to boost Steamboat’s summer air program. He believes the city needs to continue to support the business community and tourism as long as it is dependent on sales taxes.
Dellinger believes basic services, such as fire and ambulance services, should be the first priority in the budget with amenities second and community support third.
“I will never ask anybody to pay a special tax for basic services, because I think the community should expect certain things from their budget,” Dellinger said.
Instead, she proposes an increase in the lodging tax that would be earmarked for amenities that benefit commercial businesses.
She would prefer a property tax that supports the annual $4 million operating budget for the Parks, Open Space and Recreational Services Department. Dellinger said the 2000 Community Survey put Parks, Recreation and Open Space in the top five concerns of the community. She believes a property tax for these items will give residents what they want and improve amenities that can lure more events that would benefit commercial businesses and increase sales tax.
“It is really no different than your own budget,” Dellinger said. “You pay the (necessities), then see what you have left over to play with.”
Instead of supporting the summer air service program, Dellinger favors sinking the money into Yampa Valley Regional Airport for terminal improvements.
Romberg said he is not a “no growth person” but that there should be something in the Community Development Code that says this is “a really good project, but it would be much better to do it at some other time.”
Romberg has called for an impact statement that would ensure quality development, force growth to pay its own way and have no negative impact on the community.
In the past year, Romberg has been outspoken about controlling commercial growth. He doesn’t want to see empty downtown storefronts and the same types of national chains that can be found anywhere. He fears the businesses with the deepest pockets will be the only ones able to survive and wants to level the playing field for local merchants.
Dellinger said the first step to growth management is using the tools the city already has in place; something she said the current council has not always done. She points to the decision the council made to allow Colorado Group Realty to expand into a building along Lincoln Avenue, a proposal city staff and the Planning Commission recommended against.
The council was in direct contrast to what the community wanted when it removed growth-management tools out of the community plan, she said. If elected, Dellinger said she would hold to the community-driven plans.
— To reach Christine Metz call 871-4229
or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
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