Steamboat Council meetings lasting nearly 5 hours on average; have been steadily getting longer
Tuesday’s council meeting is starting earlier than normal as it is projected to last seven hours, which would make it the longest meeting since at least 2020.
Steamboat Springs City Council will start its meeting at 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday, an hour and a half earlier than normal in an effort to prevent the rather lengthy agenda from spilling into the early hours of Wednesday.
The meeting agenda includes key items like a crucial step in the process to overhaul Gondola Transit Center, final negotiations on a Brown Ranch annexation agreement, a half dozen planning items and multiple things to refer on to the ballot in November.
“Our meeting on Tuesday (Aug. 22) — all-time record since I’ve been here — is now projected to go seven hours,” said City Manager Gary Suiter at Friday’s annexation committee meeting. “Likely to go longer.”
A seven-hour meeting would be the longest seen in at least the last four years, according to an analysis by The Yampa Valley Bugle, which reviewed the length of each meeting dating back to 2020 as well as some in 2018 that had available recordings. Special meetings, which are often shorter and devoted to one topic, were not included in the analysis, but council work sessions were.
On average, the length of Council’s meeting has increased each year, jumping from about 3 hours 40 minutes on average in 2020 to just shy of 5 hours this year — 4 hours and 55 minutes to be exact. In 2022, council lasted 4 hours, 28 minutes on average and in 2021 it was 4 hours 22 minutes.
This year, with several months of meetings left, Council has already spent the equivalent of nearly 4 and a third days in meetings. The total meeting time for council in 2022 was just shy of a week.
The time commitment for a council member is one of the primary reasons that council has referred a ballot measure to voters that would increase their pay if approved. Under the measure, the base rate for a council member would increase from $11,900 a year to $20,000. The aim of this ballot measure is in part to make serving on council more attractive to more people.
“Community expectations have grown over the years and in order to keep up with those expectations it does require more time and more dedication to this role,” said Council Member Dakotah McGinlay, as council voted to refer the question to the November ballot. “Therefore, it is becoming harder and harder I think to find this role appetizing.”
Council’s meeting Tuesday will start at 3:30 p.m. with them first convening as the Steamboat Springs Redevelopment Authority to consider the Public Improvements Agreement between the city and Steamboat Ski & Resort Corp. that is part of the resort’s metro district proposal. This is revisited later in the meeting as council needs to approve it as the Redevelopment Authority Board and as council (despite those two bodies being the same seven people).
The other significant item is continued work on the Brown Ranch annexation agreement, which is on the same tight timeline to get on the ballot as the metro district proposal, with things needing to be finalized by council’s Sept. 5 meeting.
Other planning items on the agenda include the Yampa Valley Housing Authority’s Mid Valley project, a private workforce housing project, and a parking lot at Colorado Mountain College’s campus.
Public comment, which typically occurs at 6 p.m., could happen earlier on Tuesday. If the agenda time projections hold up, it could start closer to 5 p.m.
Top Photo Caption: Yampa Valley Housing Authority Executive Director Jason Peasley presents to Steamboat Springs City Council at a meeting on Aug. 1. (Dylan Anderson/The Yampa Valley Bugle)