Steamboat Council candidate says experience could help body work efficiently, increase transparency
At-large candidate John Agosta said about 100 of his neighbors asked him to run for Steamboat Springs City Council.
It wasn’t difficult for Steamboat Springs City Council candidate John Agosta to get the 25 signatures needed to get his name on the ballot, as he says about 100 of his neighbors asked him to run.
As he has gotten involved in City Council’s issues — mainly a recent decision to approve two new hotels in the area of Stone Lane and U.S. Highway 40, and accept a developer fee to help plan a future crossing over the Yampa River at Stone Lane — he felt they were not working efficiently.
“My background is about bringing people together doing program management,” Agosta said “I worked with a large number of high-tech companies like (Hewlett Packard), Intel, Microsoft, Google, Amazon. What I was doing was putting together partnerships and put together multimillion-dollar contracts with these companies and then put the teams to actually execute on them.”
Agosta is one of four candidates for the at-large seat on Council in November. At-large candidates can live anywhere in the city and are elected for just a two-year term, rather that a four-year term for those running in a respective council district.
The number one reason Agosta wants to be elected to Council is to increase transparency, as he feels the motives of certain decisions are not always clear. He said council’s numerous executive sessions related to Brown Ranch have been frustrating. He recalled one meeting where council discussed the parks plan in public for more than an hour, then went into executive session, after which they dropped their request for a regional park.
“It was kind of like, what is that about?” Agosta. “What happened behind those closed doors that all of a sudden said something that was for months an absolute requirement to no.”
Agosta said he is in full support of the first phase of the Brown Ranch, which encompasses about 1,100 units. As for phases two and three, Agosta said he feels that council has placed the appropriate safeguards in the annexation agreement to pause the project after phase one if there is a lack of funding.
“It appears that the levers are there,” Agosta said. “The key lever that is there is basically that we have the ability to not distribute building permits for the following phases.”
On growth, Agosta said it is going to happen with or without the Brown Ranch. Rather than trying to stop growth, Agosta said he feel the community needs to make smart tradeoffs to ensure that growth complements what is already here and works to protect the environment and waterways.
Environmental sustainability is also important to Agosta, adding that the Climate Action Plan is adopted across the county and it is Council’s job to execute on it, incorporating the recommendations into city policies where it makes sense.
Council has made decisions in regard to snowmelt systems recently that go against recommendations of the Climate Action Plan, and Agosta said he struggles with finding a clear answer here as well. He said he would want more data from stakeholders like Yampa Valley Electric Association before making a decision. Overall, Agosta said snowmelt is a necessary amenity in some cases, but that he would want systems to strike a balance between melting snow in areas where it is needed for safety, but not across broad swaths of the community.
On the issue of whether Steamboat Springs should pursue a property tax — a topic that often comes up on council — Agosta said he would want to get a better understanding of city revenues before making a decision. He said the lack of housing and workers is part of sales tax declines in addition to tourists, and that needs to be considered as well. Still, Agosta notes that when he lived on the Front Range his property taxes were twice as high as they are now for a similarly valued home.
“What the Front Range is not struggling with is money for building out roads and infrastructure,” Agosta said. “Ultimately, I am open to actually looking at a city tax.”