Steamboat Springs City Council gives up ski pass perk
Steamboat Springs — The Steamboat Springs City Council has relinquished a longstanding ski pass perk that had caused some angst and created friction between the council and city staff in recent years.
The council on Tuesday approved the first reading of a 2017 spending plan that nixed six ski medallions from the council’s operating budget.
The city will still purchase four medallions to the ski area with money from the general fund, but the benefit will be exclusive to city staff and not the city’s elected officials.
Councilman Scott Ford led the effort to end the council’s ski medallion benefit program, saying it had caused unnecessary angst.
Ford was most concerned about how the program was set up to give the city’s elected officials preferential treatment over city workers with the taxpayer-funded ski passes.
During budget hearings last month, Ford advocated for the city to not purchase the medallions altogether and instead use the $19,350 on core items such as protective gear for firefighters — a budget item Ford noted cost about the same amount as the passes.
“It’s not a necessary part of the council’s budget,” Ford said of the ski passes.
But the council still wanted to keep the perk intact for city employees, some of whom have told the council it’s the only way they can afford to ski in Steamboat.
The council’s internal debate over the benefit program didn’t become public until some of the council’s recent emails were made public as a response to an open records request from Steamboat Today.
Email communications revealed Councilman Tony Connell had taken some flak from Council President Walter Magill for his frequent use of the ski medallions.
Magill felt Connell was abusing the reservation system for the passes and that it was unfair to the rest of council and city employees.
Connell said he never bumped any city employees from the medallion reservation list.
And last month, he said he was fine with the council scrapping the program altogether and putting the money toward training.
Under the old medallion policy, council members could bump city employees at any time from the reservation list.
Finance Director Kim Weber said city departments used to each purchase their own medallions for use by their employees, but the medallions were nixed during the economic recession.
She said that’s when employees started sharing the medallions with the City Council.
The city purchases the medallions from Colorado Ski Country USA.
The city already has purchased the six medallions for the upcoming ski season with funds from the CIty Council’s budget.
The changes to the ski pass funding will occur next ski season.
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