Council brings up more concerns with CB Center for the Arts lease

Looking for full board representation

By Mark Reaman

The Crested Butte Town Council has once again put off approving a lease for the Crested Butte Center for the Arts. It was scheduled for approval January 21 but it will now be handled in February—maybe.

The council began looking at the lease at the end of 2019 but several questions from the council pushed off a vote. Lighting issues were settled and a subcommittee of Town Council and Center for the Arts representatives had most recently met to hammer out the term of the lease. They agreed to make it a 50-year lease, with three 10-year renewals instead of having the initial term be 30 years. The hope from the Center is that the longer term will provide a comfort level for some potential donors.

The subcommittee also agreed that the town would have the right to review the Center’s management of the premises to ensure the public interest and community needs are being addressed in a reasonable manner by the Center for the Arts. One provision allows the town to address “programming concerns of year-round residents, and provides rate structure supportive of community user groups.”

The latest delay is over the role of the Town Council representative to the Center’s board of directors. Both Crested Butte and Mt. Crested Butte have ex officio roles on the board that do not vote and cannot attend executive sessions.

That role has been part of the standard lease with the Center for the Arts for years but when newly appointed representative Mona Merrill was recently denied access to an executive session it raised a red flag with some council members.

Council member Mallika Magner said she did not want the town representative to be hamstrung in their oversight role with issues such as Center finances.

“Having full access to those meetings and the finances would help with transparency,” agreed council member Will Dujardin.

“Better access would better inform the council and help with transparency when it comes to the financial numbers, which can be sometimes all over the place,” said Crested Butte finance director Rob Zillioux.

“It’s simply about access and transparency,” said Magner. “We want the ability to participate in executive sessions to have a better understanding of how things are going.”

“It’s not our job to micro-manage the Center but we want to be aware of the financials since we own the building,” said mayor Jim Schmidt.

Magner said the request was not micro-management but the ability to have better understanding of financials that impact the town. She said for town representatives to be able to vote and attend executive sessions, the Center would have to amend its bylaws.

No one was representing the Center at that January 21 council meeting so the council put off voting on the lease and will contact the Center before the first council meeting in February to see if its board of directors is amenable to making the bylaw change.

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