Steamboat Springs If residents in and around Steamboat Springs indulged in all the things on the "community wish list," the tab would come to about $201 million.
The trouble is the community can only come to the table with about $139 million. That means $62 million needs to be trimmed from the bill, or somebody is going to have a serious stack of dishes to wash.
The wish list is a menu of projects that can be categorized under such headings as affordable housing, open space, transportation, public buildings and public safety.
The potential sources of funding to pay for the menu items over the next 15 to 20 years include public and private grants, an accommodation tax, user fees, lottery funds, property taxes, resort fees, bonds and sales tax.
The questions residents have to answer are how much are they willing to pay for the things they say they want and how do they want to pay?
Participants at this year's Economic Summit June 1 and 2 can expect to develop a strategy for tackling those questions. Eventually, the results of an economic analysis commissioned by the city Routt County and Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association are expected to help determine how funding might be generated.
The wish list presents a big-picture view of all the community's many wants and needs, said Sandy Evans, interim director of the chamber. Mike Tetreault, who runs the local office of The Nature Conservancy and is on the Economic Development Council will introduce the list to Economic Summit participants.
"This year's Economic Summit will not be the only way for residents to help prioritize issues and provide input on new potential sources of revenue, but it will be a very efficient way," Tetreault said.
One thing is certain, EDC representatives agreed, future improvements and strengthening the regional economy will depend heavily upon diversification.
For the EDC, the first step in diversifying the economy of Steamboat Springs and surrounding areas is shifting away from dependence on tourism.
"We could use more diversity and more back-up. We really shouldn't be putting all our eggs in one basket, so to speak," City Manager Paul Hughes said. "We need to have enough of a mix of revenue sources that we're not so dependent on one if that one revenue source is strongly affected, it could hurt the whole system. I don't see us moving away from tourism entirely but it would be nice to have more diversity,"
To help determine what revenue sources would be viable, the county, city, and chamber have hired a pair of economics professors from Colorado State University. The professors will study the current economy it's pluses and minuses and .
"The economic analysis will provide us with a venue of possibilities, of all the different options for revenue sources given current economic trends. Summit participants may look at (the study) when it comes out in August to determine a course of action for raising funds for what they believe the community needs
The economic analysis was prompted by community concerns about growth, the consequences of the growth and ongoing debates about the level of marketing for the resort area, Hughes said.
Growth, development, and marketing issues will definitely come into discussion at the summit, Tetreault said.
"Some people are saying we need to stop the marketing, others are saying that if we do, our tax receipts will drop off drastically," Tetreault said. "Either way, it is clear that right now, our city depends on sales taxes to keep things running."
The results of the upcoming summit whether they reflect a desire to stop, continue, or increase marketing won't be viewed in a vacuum.
"In theory, all of these processes will be linked together the economic analysis, the community wish list, and the input gathered at the summit," Tetreault said. "What we will develop from a compilation of the three will be a strategic plan based on where the community identifies the most important 'wishes.'"
If a new form of taxation seems to be the best possible source of revenue for a recreation center for example, voter approval would need to be sought because the state constitution requires a vote for any new form of taxation.
"Before we tax ourselves, our visitors, or growth and development, we have to look at what will be the trends impacting local industries over the next 10 to 20 years," Evans said. "Whatever we depend on for revenue, needs to be around and as strong as it is now to generate the amount of revenue we think we will need."
To reach Bonnie Nadzam call 871-4205 or e-mail email@example.com