Base area committee chosen

The Steamboat Springs City Council on Tuesday decided who would serve on the Urban Renewal Authority Advisory Committee.

The committee's duties will include advising the City Council about how to use funds generated from the Urban Renewal Authority. The authority's intent is to raise money for public improvements at the base of the Steamboat Ski Area. It is financed by future property tax and sales tax growth within the URA boundaries.

The makeup of the committee has created discussion among council members during a few meetings. Some were concerned that including stakeholders, such as developers, on the committee would be a conflict of interest. City staff proposed the makeup of the committee to the council late last year.

On Tuesday, the council discussed the committee's structure, as well as who should be on it.

Council member Paul Strong suggested the council appoint 10 members: one from each of seven previously identified interest groups and the three community at-large applicants.

Council member Loui Antonucci agreed with Strong's suggestion. Antonucci voiced support for the makeup of the committee.

"I think that there's a lot of passion with these people," Antonucci said.

Council member Steve Ivancie said he was "on the fence" about the issue. He said he was concerned about conflicts of interest but that he understood the council would make final decisions, not the committee. He ultimately agreed with the proposal because the committee was only advisory.

Council President Ken Brenner said potential conflicts of interest concerned him. The committee may not "pass the smell test" and meet the codes of conflict of interest, he said. The codes exist in a state statute and the city's home rule charter, he said.

"We can't appoint a committee that doesn't meet that standard," Brenner said.

The conflict of interest codes do not apply to advisory commissions and boards, City Attorney Tony Lettunich said. He did not see a legal problem with the proposed makeup of the committee.

Council member Towny Anderson stressed the importance of watching for ethical breaches or potential conflicts of interest. If the group would be truly advisory and not make decisions, Anderson said, there is inherently no conflict of interest.

Council President Pro-tem Susan Dellinger was concerned about possible conflicts. She did not see a significant difference between advising and making decisions.

"I'd rather have a benign group that would have no financial benefit," she said.

The council voted 5 to 2 to approve the proposed makeup of the group. The opposing votes were Dellinger and Brenner.

City Clerk Julie Jordan said Wednesday that one other community member, Rich Levy of the Community Alliance of the Yampa Valley, had turned in an application that was not included in council members' packets.

Jordan plans to ask the council at its next meeting Feb. 7 whether members want to include Levy on the committee.

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