Candidates debate issues

City Council contenders address Triple Crown, mill levy

Candidates for three Steamboat Springs City Council seats addressed numerous city issues in front of an audience of about 30 during a Wednesday afternoon forum hosted by the Steamboat Pilot & Today and KRMR radio.

Missing from the panel of candidates was Marcus Williams, a District 2 candidate who announced his withdrawal from the race moments before the forum began.

Williams, a political newcomer and two-year Steamboat resident, said given his business ventures, he can't dedicate the time and energy necessary to be an effective council member.

"It's a difficult race, this three-way race," Williams said. "It requires an extraordinary amount of time and resources."

Because ballots already have been printed, Williams' name will appear when voters enter election booths Nov. 4. Votes for Williams will not count.

Williams was set to run against District 2 hopefuls Ken Brenner and Kathi Meyer.

Brenner told Wednesday's audience that he is running on a special-interest platform, the special interest being the typical Steamboat resident who is underrepresented on the current council.

"I felt we needed better representation for the people in the community," Brenner said of his decision to run. "(Residents) need a stronger voice."

Meyer said she believes this election is about money, specifically the need to transition from a tourism-driven economy to a more diversified economy. Meyer's vision for the community is one of inclusiveness, where people who work here can afford to live here.

"We must make better spending decisions," Meyer said. "I'll protect your hard-earned tax dollars."

Brenner and Meyer said they are opposed to the 3.55-mill property tax on the ballot and are concerned about Triple Crown, but for different reasons.

Taxpayers need to know the cost of new ball fields, where they will be built, how they will be funded and whether a sustainable contract with Triple Crown will be in place to ensure tournaments will continue to come to the city, Brenner said. He also is concerned about the increased athletics fees for residents.

Meyer said Steamboat is marketed as a family-friendly place, and summer tourism is an essential part of the city's revenue. If the community doesn't support Triple Crown it needs to be replaced with other events, she said.

Susan Dellinger opposes incumbent Bud Romberg in the council's District 1 race. Romberg said he supports the proposed property tax because it guarantees a revenue source for emergency services and allows more funds for capital projects.

"We need to have a property tax to diversify, to pay for the (basic) services and to free up money for capital items," Romberg said.

The council needs to better prioritize its spending, Dellinger said. Her top priority would be to fund basic services such as emergency personnel, and she suggested a mill levy to support the $4 million budget of the Parks, Recreation and Open Space Department. She doesn't support the proposed property tax.

Steve Ivancie, the incumbent at-large council member, runs unopposed for re-election. Ivancie said he opposes additional taxes to pay for basic services and believes the city needs to reduce its dependency on sales tax revenues. The city's relationship with Triple Crown is "unhealthy" and its commitment to it needs to be re-evaluated, he said.

District 3 candidate Paul Strong, who is running unopposed, didn't attend the forum.

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