Accommodations tax funds in spotlight in Steamboat
City officials to form committee for proposals; several groups express interest
April 6, 2011
At a glance
On Nov. 4, 1986, Steamboat Springs residents approved an accommodations tax devoted to tourism-related amenities. The tax won 71 percent of the vote, with 1,362 in favor and 564 opposed.
Throughout the years, the tax has provided funding for a Strings Music Festival tent, the Tennis Center at Steamboat Springs and Haymaker Golf Course. The Haymaker use expires in 2013, leaving future use of the revenues open for debate.
Steamboat Springs — City officials plan to form a committee to review requests for future uses of the city's accommodations tax, which will have hundreds of thousands of dollars available annually as of 2014 and already has plenty of suitors knocking on the door.
Representatives of Haymaker Golf Course, the Tennis Center at Steamboat Springs, Old Town Hot Springs and the Steamboat Springs Youth Soccer Association all spoke to the Steamboat Springs City Council on Tuesday night in Centennial Hall. Other groups and initiatives also recently have expressed interest in the future revenues. The City Council conducted an initial discussion Tuesday of how to plan for future uses of the accommodations tax and supported a collaborative approach.
"We're going to work on establishing a committee to review all the different proposals and uses of these funds when they become available in 2014," City Council President Cari Hermacinski said.
That work will unfold in coming weeks.
Hermacinski said City Council members would meet with interested stakeholders, such as members of local lodging and recreation groups, to form a framework for accepting and reviewing proposals for future tax uses.
The city's accommodations tax, approved by voters in 1986 and long dedicated solely to bond debt associated with Haymaker Golf Course, will have available unallocated revenues in three years. The Haymaker allocation officially sunsets in 2013, but because tax revenues from that year will be needed to complete the debt payments, money won't be available until 2014.
The tax generated $651,000 in 2009 and just more than $600,000 in 2010, according to the city's Haymaker budget records. The revenues are budgeted for $527,000 this year. Hermacinski said revenues have approached $800,000 in years when the economy has been stronger.
"You're talking $600,000 to $700,000 a year," City Council member Walter Magill said Tuesday. "That's a lot of money that could go a lot of places."
John Vanderbloemen, chairman of the Haymaker Golf Management Committee, presented the City Council with a spreadsheet listing the public course's capital project needs and revenues through 2036. He stated last month that using some portion of future accommodations tax revenues would help the city maintain the course, an asset the tax created.
The data he presented Tuesday listed annual allocations of $216,000 from the accommodations tax.
"That would adequately take care of future capital needs" at Haymaker, Vanderbloemen said.
The Tennis Center's Jim Swiggart also expressed support for using the funds for existing facilities, rather than new projects.
"I think we need to look at the potential of keeping this pot of gold at the end of the rainbow intact for the facilities the city already owns," Swiggart said.
The 1 percent accommodations tax is separate from the 2 percent lodging tax for the local marketing district, which funds the airline program.
Several people expressed appreciation Tuesday for the city's efforts in starting the tax talks well in advance.
"This discussion needs to start now," Vanderbloemen said.
To reach Mike Lawrence, call 970-871-4233 or email mlawrence@SteamboatToday.com
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