Outcry over City Council’s free ticket decision leads to change in city policy | SteamboatToday.com

Outcry over City Council’s free ticket decision leads to change in city policy

Ziggy Marley drew thousands of music fans to Howelsen Hill last summer for the Steamboat Springs Free Concert Series. This year, the series will offer a different kind of experience for concert goers.
John F. Russell

— In its third revote of the year, the Steamboat Springs City Council on Tuesday reversed its controversial decision to call dibs on free concert tickets and VIP concert passes.

The council voted unanimously to not take the perks and also changed the city’s policy regarding donated tickets.

Going forward, the city will not accept free tickets and VIP passes.

“If we get offered tickets, we say, ‘No, thank you,'” Councilwoman Kathi Meyer said. “We’re polite, and then there’s no expectation of any favors back.”

The council’s previous decision to call first choice on the Strings tickets and Free Summer Concert VIP passes angered and upset many members of the community, who viewed the move as selfish and lacking integrity.

Councilman Scott Ford called the decision “boneheaded.”

Some community members also suggested the council violated its ethics code by accepting gifts from organizations it regularly approves funding for.

After hearing the strong criticism, some council members apologized last week and said the city should rethink its practice of accepting free tickets and passes to events sponsored by taxpayer dollars.

“I think this highlighted a situation that we, as council, probably need to make a new policy on,” Councilman Ford said.

Ford said by not accepting tickets for city sponsorships, the nonprofits that used to donate tickets will benefit by being able to sell those tickets to the public and maximize revenue.

City Manager Gary Suiter said the municipalities he had previously managed, it was a practice to turn away tickets and passes donated to the city.

He also said it would be better for the council not to follow the precedent of previous councils and donate the freebies to city staff.

“I would rather them not go to staff, because it creates more complications at the staff level,” he said.

The council and the city will now purchase any tickets to events it wants to attend.

The event also spurred City Attorney Dan Foote to suggest a possible update to the council’s 40-year-old code of ethics.

The reconsideration of the ticket decision was the third time the current council has had to change a decision this year.

In January, the council’s decision to not release more information about an internal police investigation was revisited and overturned by the council.

The revote followed a public outcry and a realization that Councilwoman Heather Sloop should not have voted against the release, because she was taking flying lessons with former Deputy Police Chief Bob DelValle, one of the main subjects of the probe.

Sloop did not disclose the conflict of interest.

Last month, the council conducted another revote after the council determined Councilman Tony Connell had an undisclosed conflict of interest and should not have voted against the relocation of a pot shop to Curve Plaza.

Connell had disagreements with the landlord of the Curve Plaza location about other pot-growing tenants in Connell’s office building off Elk River Road.

The revote ended up overturning the council’s previous decision to halt the pot shop’s move.

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210, email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ScottFranz10

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