Hope Cook, friends: Respect shareholders
A sale of a multimillion dollar public asset at a million-plus dollar loss merits open, transparent due process. City Council is equivalent to the Steamboat citizens’ board of directors, and citizen “shareholders” deserve the respect of receiving (at the very least) an executive summary highlighting why this sale is the best decision for our community.
I thereby suggest these top 10 executive summary questions be addressed prior to the sale of the Iron Horse Inn:
■ What is the basic summary of the property, including: original cost, debt, operating costs, rental income and current partnerships with local employers?
■ What was the process that determined it is the best market decision to sell at a million-plus loss when the economy and commercial values are improving? Do projected net annual costs exceed predicted property appreciation?
■ Why did City Council choose two council members who both work for the same local realty company to conduct private negotiations with the buyer? What measures were taken to ensure there is no conflict of interest regarding this transaction with other transactions between the councilmen/their realtor company and the buyer?
■ Why is council rushing the process with a special fourth Tuesday of the month final vote? Assuming council conducted thorough due diligence, there should not be a problem with the new council voting on the final reading (similar to the city budget final reading). Or, have the public hearing Oct. 27 and have the final vote the usual first Tuesday (Nov. 3 meeting).
■ Is there any confirmation/covenants ensuring that housing on this property will continue to be affordable for local wage earners?
■ Did council publicly discuss or review the “best use” for this property?
■ Did council direct staff to research public grant opportunities to improve/fund the property?
■ Did council discuss partnership and grant opportunities with local housing nonprofit organizations for grant partnerships similar to the tax-credit low-income rentals YVHA and Overland Properties are building?
■ How many local families currently rent at Iron Horse? Did council consider a transition plan?
■ Is the money received on this sale going into the community housing fund?
Council, please: End your term with transparency by conducting a true public hearing that shares your due diligence, research and reasoning regarding this sale.
Respect public opinion, and schedule the final vote in a timeframe that allows sincere consideration of all public comment and input. A final vote the same evening as the public hearing indicates a disregard for studying any public input received at the hearing; plus, it does not give citizens who could not attend the hearing an opportunity to review and comment on the hearing’s information.
Correct public process may take a bit longer; however, it will add public trust, transparency and accountability to your final decision.
Hope Cook and concerned friends
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