City Council FYI: Top 10 council questions
October 15, 2018
Government is for the people, by the people. In a small town, that means one is often approached in all locations by constituents with questions, a craving for information or a need to have their concern conveyed for further discussion.
This month, I've chosen to pay homage to the David Letterman days with a special Council Top 10 that always seems to be top of mind with residents.
Why doesn't the city of Steamboat Springs use its property tax more effectively or for specific items? There's no other way to say it: the city does not have a property tax. We just don't. When property owners pay taxes, it goes to the county, school, fire district and other entities. As a city, there is no property tax.
What is the state of Howelsen Hill and what does it cost? Howelsen is always a topic of discussion. Significant strides have been achieved in operations and maintenance. A new agreement has been signed between Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club and city solidifying our financial interests. The city will maintain the hill and the SSWSC will contribute $100,000 per year as well as partner on fundraising for a new chairlift. I believe the future looks bright for this community gem which is the focal point of our history and heritage. I hope it will continue to be used for generations.
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How will the city address this need for working families with the Igloo at Howelsen gone and after school programs filling to capacity? There is a significant need as parents must work, and kids deserve a safe environment to be kids. I strongly believe this is an essential service, as our workforce would halt after 3 p.m., if not for after-school programming. Others on Steamboat Springs City Council disagree and believe the problem will fix itself with private entities stepping up. The community conversation must not disappear, nor can after-school programming become compromised. We need to hear from you to ensure kids are taken care of.
Too much/too little? I believe it's somewhat of a double-edged sword. If traffic decreases, then do visitors and hence, sales tax, also fall? Trickier, if we install parking meters, then are more people parking in old town neighborhoods? Studies have shown by using Howelsen and rodeo locations the issue can be mediated to an extent. I ask that you give it a try. If we were in a metropolitan area, parking two blocks or more away would be the norm. By accepting a walk to eat or shop, we are helping ourselves and the community.
How can we ensure people who work here can afford to live here? There is a need at all levels for housing. But it comes at a price. The city is working on changing requirements for developers to incentivize more housing options. This is more than a one entity issue, so continue to share your opinions. We need to hear from all sides.
What's going on? Will it be too art oriented or will there be a playground? Council asked the Steamboat Springs Creative District to come up with a plan that explores park aspects and arts space. In my opinion, this area should be eye catching from the road and an anchor when arriving from the west. Gaining your input on play space, along with shelter options and anything else you believe is important, is a must. Contact the Creative District to be heard as the final design is up to you. Do you want a playground/art space/shelter? Speak up, please.
How bad is it? Can we ever tube like in past years? Of course, this depends on weather and usage. Water restrictions have been in effect for many years now, and when we all abide by them, it protects our N. 1 natural resource. The Yampa, depending upon temps and flow, will vary dramatically. When restrictions are in place, it helps sustain the ecosystem. This summer, as a community, we did a great job of caring for our rivers, but continued conservation is essential. The early fall snow is a great sign, but let's all hope for loads of snow and slow spring melt to ensure next tubing and fishing season is a healthy one.
Why do the bus times change every year? What happened to every 20 minutes at night? Transit is one of the biggest line items in the city budget. Last year, we decreased service levels for evening by cutting to 30-minute intervals. Ridership fell from this change. It is proposed in the 2019 budget to restore 20-minute evening routes for all our users to have better commute times.
Why can't I get through downtown? You might not know that the city is responsible for three traffic signals while CDOT operates and maintains all other traffic signals including those along U.S. Highway 40. This summer, traffic flow and pedestrian studies were conducted. Modifications and tweaks are sure to continue as CDOT and the city work to find the best solutions to keep everyone moving in the right direction.
How much of an issue is the topic of dogs? Animals are a fact of life here, whether on the wild side or our trusted family companions. We live in a place where wildlife must remain wild and animal ownership comes with responsibilities. Council extended the trial period for three off-leash areas. The community and interested organizations must continue to work together with Animal Control and Colorado Parks and Wildlife to ensure a safe environment for all. Whether an animal lover or not, I urge everyone to be respectful to each other when we encounter four-legged friends in the park, on the trail or in our neighborhoods.
Along with every one of my colleagues, we welcome your questions and enthusiasm to learn the facts and help solve the questions facing us as a community. I urge you to take it a step further and become involved with issues that matter most to you, because it's your city. Email us, call us, show up to a meeting. Without your voice, we cannot act. My favorite saying is, "If we are not ashamed to think it, we should not be ashamed to say it," by Marcus Cicero. Let your voice be heard. We do listen.
Heather Sloop is a member of Steamboat Springs City Council.