1st day of public hearings wraps up for lodging tax proposal finalists | SteamboatToday.com

1st day of public hearings wraps up for lodging tax proposal finalists

Michael Schrantz

From the nearly 40 initial applications, eight final proposals are left and will be presented in public hearings at noon Wednesday and Thursday at Centennial Hall.

— On Wednesday, the lodging tax committee heard presentations from four of the eight final applicants for the 1 percent lodging tax in Steamboat Springs that generates $650,000 to $800,000 annually. The presentations continue from noon to 2 p.m. Thursday at Centennial Hall with the Steamboat Springs Trails Alliance, Howelsen Hill Sports Complex Partners, Friends of the Chief and the Downtown Revitalization Committee's request to build a river park along the Yampa.

After the presentation process, the committee will make a recommendation to the Steamboat Springs City Council. The City Council then will vote on the matter, but the ultimate decision could rest with voters.

Nearly all of the remaining proposals request either multi-year commitments or bond financing, both of which would require an election, according to City Attorney Tony Lettunich.

The four presentations heard Wednesday were:

Old Town Hot Springs

Request: 8,000-square-foot, two-story addition to the current 20,000-square-foot building, built out into the west parking lot. Exterior facelift to the building, creating new concepts for the gateway to downtown. Renovations to the current fitness center. Creation of an improved front entrance, positioning OTHS more in alignment with the recent new buildings in the downtown area.

Cost: $3 million. Commitment of $300,000 for 10 years from lodging tax revenue leveraged into a bank loan.

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Presentation: Rich Lowe, president of Old Town Hot Springs, said about 50,000 visitors use Old Town Hot Springs each year, supplying 40 percent of the organization’s revenue. Lowe said the expansion would allow the exercise and class programming to triple, and spa facilities and meeting rooms also would be expanded. Old Town Hot Springs would like to partner more with the Steamboat Springs Resort Chamber Association to market to specific areas and demographics, Lowe said. The expansion is expected to cost $3 million, he said, and the organization is flexible about using either bonds or private lending to finance construction.

Haymaker Golf Committee

Request: “The Haymaker Golf Committee requests that a portion of future accommodations tax revenues be allocated to a Capital Reserve Fund, established within the Haymaker Golf Enterprise Fund, for the purpose of covering the unmet future costs of reasonable and necessary capital replacements at Haymaker.”

Cost: The committee requests $190,000 be set aside each year to be reviewed every five years.

Presentation: John Vanderbloemen, chairman of the Haymaker Golf Committee, said that the funds requested for a capital reserve fund are for long-term projects above what is accounted for in the standard budget. Vanderbloemen said Haymaker is not asking for a firm multi-year commitment but would take whatever the city was willing to contribute to the fund. Haymaker breaks even or makes a small profit most years, Vanderbloeman said, but that does not supply enough revenue for the course to budget for long-term costs such as a new irrigation system. Responding to a question, he said he does not know for sure when the course will be making enough to budget for those costs but that the proposed five-year review is designed to determine if they’re on track to do that.

Public open space acquisition (city of Steamboat Springs)

Request: “This project will purchase six different open space properties in order to provide additional recreation, access to the river, trail corridors, view corridors and wildlife habitat/watchable wildlife for residents and visitors to our community.”

Cost: $1,497,740 requested from lodging tax revenues to be paired with $5,370,500 in grant and partner funding to purchase all six properties

Presentation: The city’s presentation stressed the urgency surrounding the acquisition of six open space properties, many of which already are treated like public land, according to Winnie DelliQuadri, government programs manager for Steamboat Springs. “What do we lose if this is fenced and mansions are built?” DelliQuadri asked about a parcel near Emerald Mountain. She said the lands in question provide opportunities for hiking, biking and fishing, the top recreation choices according to a Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association survey. The city would take advantage of Routt County purchase of development rights funds and Great Outdoors Colorado grants to supply the additional funds to purchase the properties.

Friends of the Yampa

Request: To commit funds to tackle projects outlined in the Yampa River Structural Master Plan, which total $4 million. Projects could be phased and lodging tax revenue committed would be leveraged against grants needing matching funds. “The projects consist of in-stream and riverside improvements along the Yampa River within the city limits of Steamboat Springs.”

Cost: “If $50,000 to $100,000 per year were allocated to implementing the YRSMP, Friends of the Yampa believes that considerable progress could be made over time.”

Presentation: Kent Vertrees, of Friends of the Yampa, said his group is only asking for 10 percent to 20 percent of the annual amount generated by the lodging tax. He said the group recognizes that other projects might need a larger share. The Yampa River Structural Master Plan identifies projects the Friends of the Yampa can accomplish every couple of years depending on how much money it receives, Vertrees said. The committee requested a list of what projects from the plan Friends of the Yampa might prioritize and work on if it was to receive between $50,000 to $100,000 per year for 10 years.

To reach Michael Schrantz, call 970-871-4254 or email mschrantz@SteamboatToday.com

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