Steamboat Springs City Council starts talking 2016 priorities at retreat |

Steamboat Springs City Council starts talking 2016 priorities at retreat

— Citizens of Steamboat Springs shouldn’t expect to see many light agendas from their City Council in the coming months.

The council’s list of likely goals for next year includes continuing to develop plans for a new police facility, working with the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club to arrive at a new joint-use agreement for Howelsen Hill, overseeing a multi-million-dollar makeover of downtown and improving the community’s trust in the council.

At a goal-setting retreat Friday morning, council members also decided they want to initiate a new set of workshop sessions on a wide range of topics in the coming weeks and months.

The council will talk more about its goals and how to measure them at a workshop session Dec. 15.

Friday’s retreat, facilitated by Interim City Manager Gary Suiter, also offered a chance for council members — including four newly seated members — to get to know each other better and understand their roles.

Following are other highlights from the retreat:

Moving past vote

Council members discussed their recent 4-3 vote not to release a more thorough summary of the internal police investigation that led to the departures of the city’s two top cops and its city manager. Council President Walter Magill said he hoped the council would not see another vote on the issue.

“What’s done is done, and now, I want to move forward,” he said.

He urged other council members not to let negative reaction from the community about the decision bother them.

Councilwoman Heather Sloop, who voted against obtaining more information about the probe, said she was surprised a vote was called Tuesday, adding she would have liked more time to “digest” the information before making a decision.

“I’m not saying I would change my mind, but if you’re going to make a motion with that kind of a power punch in it, put it on the agenda,” she told Councilman Scott Ford.

Ford, who wanted a new summary of the investigation, said his calling the vote “wasn’t a surprise” and that he had let his fellow council members know he planned to call one.

Trusting each other

Councilman Tony Connell lamented a recent instance of a council member leaking to the media an email between council members and City Attorney Tony Lettunich.

“That has rocked my trust and rocked my perception of (the council member) who may have done that, and it may have degraded my relationship with that person,” Connell said. “I believe in confidential information, and if it leaks, and it gets back to you, I believe that has personal liability.”

Earlier in the meeting, Suiter noted a previous trust gap between council and staff caused by staff “getting attacked” by the council.

He added, however, that it’s a new day, and the council and staff would work together to rebuild trust.

Measuring community trust

Council members talked about how they could evaluate their goal of improving the public’s trust in them.

Recent community surveys and a city staff satisfaction survey have shown that, prior to the Nov. 3 election, confidence in the council was low.

Connell suggested the council initiate 360-degree evaluations.

Meeting procedures

Council members said they want to ensure they allow public comment before beginning deliberations during meetings. There was some discussion about changing the time for the general public comment period, but the council ultimately decided to keep it at 7 p.m.

Aside from the introduction of workshops, council members also decided to retain all other existing meeting procedures.

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

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