top of page
  • Dylan Anderson

UPDATE: Steamboat Council member Buccino says he is quitting role with Discovery Land Company

Shortly after the initial publication of this story, Steamboat Springs Council member Michael Buccino told The Yampa Valley Bugle he was stepping down from the role his colleagues expressed unease about on Tuesday.

Editor's Note: Shortly after the initial publication of this story, Steamboat Springs City Council member Michael Buccino reached out to the Bugle to say he was quitting his role with Discovery Land Company. This story was updated at 9:30 a.m. on July 10. The original version of the story is below.


Steamboat Springs City Council member Michael Buccino says he is quitting a paid role with developer Discovery Land Company on Wednesday morning, after his fellow council members expressed unease about the role during a work session on Tuesday night.


"Having talked to my colleagues and the potential perceived conflicts and the stress that they are going to have to go under because of my decision is what's really the main issue," Buccino said. "I don't need to have my decision working for [Discovery Land Company] to effect all of city council in the way it has and they made that a point last night."


After last nights meeting, Buccino said he reflected on the conversation with his family and decided that his work on council was more important to him.


Buccino said he still believes in the project, but decided he wanted to prioritize efforts he has made on council over work with the Stagecoach Mountain Ranch developer. One position council indicated they would remove Buccino from on Tuesday was the Innovative Transportation Task Force, which Buccino has been on for five years. That group is working to form a regional transportation, an issue that Buccino said is really important to him.


"I'm not going to stop doing council, if I am going to pick one of the two, I am going to stick with council and let [Discovery] find someone else," Buccino said. "City council and this community means more to me."


Buccino said he intended to remain on both transportation task force and the Yampa Valley Airport Commission and planned to call Council President Gail Garey to talk about appointments it on Wednesday morning. Council did not officially remove Buccino from any appointments on Tuesday, rather that was planned for a resolution at an upcoming meeting.


"It's related to the city council feel that I'm putting them under pressure, I shouldn't do that," Buccino said. "I'm not done being city council yet."


ORIGINAL STORY:


Steamboat Springs City Council member Michael Buccino will step down from two council-appointed roles after his fellow members agreed his paid position with Stagecoach developer Discovery Land Company could pose a perceived conflict of interest.


Council met for a work session Tuesday where several members expressed their unease with Buccino’s decision to take a paid position as a community relations manager for the Stagecoach Mountain Ranch project. While each council member affirmed that they didn’t question Buccino’s integrity, they acknowledged they needed to put guardrails around the relationship.  


While he said he would willingly step away from the two positions, Buccino repeatedly denied that there was any conflict of interest and dismissed the potential of a perceived conflict. If one ever arose, he assured his fellow council members he would recuse himself and inform them of the potential conflict.


“The word perceived is what I disagree with. Your perception is not my perception,” Buccino said.


“What if it is the community’s perception?” Council member Dakotah McGinlay asked.


“Again, your perception is not my perception and I have the right and the legal right to take this job,” Buccino responded.  


Council members will replace Buccino on the Yampa Valley Airport Commission and Innovative Transportation Task Force, a move that will be made official with a resolution at a future meeting. These two roles were seen by council members as having greater risk for a perceived conflict than others due to how they could relate to the Stagecoach project.


The rational for removing Buccino from the airport commission was that developers of a community targeting ultra-wealthy residents may have in interest in increasing private jet amenities in the valley, a strategic decision that the airport commission would be the key stakeholder on.


The Innovative Transportation Task Force is leading the effort to start a regional transportation authority in Northwest Colorado, and Buccino himself has mentioned opportunities for a park and ride in Stagecoach as a potential community benefit provided by the project. Buccino will retain at least five other positions on local and regional boards designated to a Steamboat Council member.


Buccino said he would not resign either his role with Discovery or his position on City Council, and no one on council asked him to do either. That said, Council did receive public comment via email ahead of the meeting asking council members to encourage Buccino to resign his role on council.


When asked by Council member Bryan Swintek how council should respond to calls for him to step aside if they continue coming, Buccino emphasized the ‘if’ in his response: “If they continue coming. …. I don’t know the answer to that Bryan.”


Buccino, who runs an interior design business, says his relationship with Discovery started roughly a year ago when they reached out for a discussion about a tiny home development he had recently completed in Milner. He said his role is really to “listen to the community, listen to the developer and try to see how the public benefit can come through.”


“I think I am the right person for this job for Stagecoach to get all the public benefit that’s coming out of it,” Buccino said. “I’m glad to be, in a sense a lightning rod, because I think I have thick skin, I can handle it. Because I want to be able to tell the story of what Stagecoach is going to get and what Stagecoach it is going to be.”


“But that’s not why they hired you — they hired you to help the community buy into their sales pitch,” McGinlay said. “They didn’t hire you to advocate for community benefit. … I think that’s not the full picture and if you’re going to paint it that way, then that’s deceptive.”


The city’s Ethics Code says a council member has a conflict of interest if they have a private interest that could conflict, interfere or influence a decision, “or which may reasonably be perceived by the public as influencing the conduct of public duties.”


Buccino argued that anyone who perceives he has a conflict of interest because of his role working for Discovery is wrong.


“I’m sorry, politely, you are wrong. Perception is reality,” Swintek said to Buccino. “My perception of you is I trust you, but I know that my perception of you if I was sitting at home would be, ‘I don’t trust this guy.’ And that is the crux of the problem.”


Swintek argued how it would be easy for folks on social media to jump to conclusions about the relationship, justified or not, and that could impact how all of council is perceived.


“Those are monster homes that need to be decorated,” Swintek said. “Are you going to be meeting with owners? Are you going to be building relationships with them? Could you be gaining business from them? Do you see how the public could easily start to pull this thread and spin a story whether it’s true or not?”


This is not the first time Buccino’s business relationships have been flagged as a potential conflict of interest. He was excluded from conversations about short-term rental overlay zones by his fellow council members in 2022 after saying in a meeting that he was “trying to be a voice for my clients” when referring to people who bought units near the base of Steamboat Resort with the intention of renting them nightly.


The vote to recuse Buccino in 2022 came after he refused to step down voluntarily from a vote to extend a moratorium on short-term rental applications after fellow members raised his comments as a potential conflict.


Council is not in a position to force Buccino to leave city’s governing board, rather that would be an action left to the voters in the city’s charter. Buccino has three and a half years left on his current council term and will not be able to run again 2027.


The way voters would make their voice heard in this case would be through a recall petition. A group of residents unsuccessfully tried to recall three council members in 2022 but failed to get the required signatures.


“It’s the voters that will ultimately decide if they don’t accept what you are doing,” said Council member Joella West, who was targeted in the recall attempt two years ago. “We’ve seen that happen, and it may or it may not.”


Top Photo Caption: Steamboat Springs City Council member Michael Buccino, right, at a work session in January 2024. (Dylan Anderson/The Yampa Valley Bugle)

Comments


bottom of page