There’s a new playbook in the Crested Butte council chambers

Getting a new Town Council is sort of like fielding a new football team at the start of a season. That is particularly true with this latest Crested Butte council that consists of seven men and no women. Not having a female perspective at the table is a bit unfortunate, but it is what it is.
The people of Crested Butte have essentially elected a new lineup and this one seems ready to try a few new schemes as they start the season. I like that. They aren’t yet Tebowing in the council chambers but based on the debut, they aren’t afraid of trying a flea flicker or two.
In its inaugural game, the new players indicated they want to revisit a few things from a different perspective than the previous team. First off, they want to thoroughly review the proposed affordable housing fees on non-residential (commercial) property in town. The last council approved a giant increase in the fees and it caused a few unforeseen consequences that made the heads of some local business types explode when they discovered how much their fees would be to expand. While some members of the town staff and affordable housing subcommittee are currently looking at making adjustments based on the outcry, this council appears to want to seriously re-evaluate the fee proposal.
I could be wrong, but I sense some changes beyond those being bantered about by the planning and legal staff and even the citizen subcommittee. This council wants to look deep into the fees and while I wouldn’t bet the house that they’ll make more adjustments than are being suggested at the moment, I’d guarantee they aren’t just going to rubber stamp the direction set by the previous council. They will be holding a work session on November 21 to delve into details. From there they will talk about the fees and the ramifications on the community and put their own stamp on the fee structure.
The new team also wasted no time in making it clear they want to revisit the Atmos franchise agreement. That will happen at a work session on December 5. The last council couldn’t reach a contract with the town’s gas provider for a franchise agreement. Such an agreement is standard fare for Colorado communities and allows public utilities to perform work in town rights of way. In exchange, there is usually a franchise fee and certain legal liability protections outlined between the town and utility. In this case, the town, through the absence of a fee, is losing about $35,000 a year. Without an agreement, there is no stated liability protection. The new council wants to look at all franchise agreements in general and Atmos in particular. This team doesn’t like leaving money on the table and they want the fee back, along with some of the other benefits of a franchise agreement. The town attorney will outline various options to deal with public utilities, but this council wants to see something in place sooner rather than later. While it made some veteran players and staff uncomfortable in their debut game, that is a smart play by the new council team.
And there was more. The first game of the council last Monday evening also included talk about a fast track for a potential solar array in the northeast part of town. There was a suggestion to mint instead of print Butte Bucks. There was chatter over “organic” burials at the town cemetery. They gave the nod to an expanded snow and ice plan for this coming winter that will cost more but keep the bus route completely clear and avoid the debacle experienced last March when a spring thaw paralyzed the town streets. That plan also calls for a zero snow bank policy on Elk Avenue. The various discussions came from the rookies as well as the veterans. Some of those who have been in the locker room a while appeared to be caught a bit off-guard by the change in team philosophy. It’s good for new players to change things up.
Many new teams need some time to adjust to the new surroundings. This fresh Crested Butte collective seems ready to jump into the race with a couple of semi-controversial formations and a few trick plays. How far they take it is yet to be determined and I can already see that not everyone at the table will always be on the same page of the playbook. That is as it should be and will keep the chemistry interesting.
But judging by their opening game, these new guys came to play.

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