Steamboat Springs Before the groups vying for public money in the next year can even begin to try to court Steamboat's discriminating voters, they will have to win the City Council over.
At least three possible tax questions will be discussed this Tuesday in front of City Council. Groups supporting ballot questions to subsidize child care, an airline and transportation fund and a city property tax will make their case before the council. In addition, a group of housing advocates may push a plan for affordable housing.
The city as a taxing district has to pass ballot questions by ordinance before voters even get to see them.
As the city has picked through this year's potential ballot items, two themes have recurred. The first is a desire by the council to pad the city's budget by asking for a subsidy for city services to be added onto each of the tax questions. The other theme has been a wish by the city to minimize the sales-tax burden on local consumers, who already pay 8.4 percent in sales tax in the city of Steamboat Springs.
City Councilman Bud Romberg has consistently made a case for some sort of consolidation of the various tax proposals, noting that the voters might be compelled to pick and choose if the items don't work together. That could lead to all of them failing.
"I'd like to see whatever finally comes out consolidated in some way so that the items are not competing against one another," Romberg said.
Though other council members have not yet echoed Romberg's sentiments, the interaction of the proposals could be at issue when council members see all of the issues in front of them on Tuesday.
The half-cent child-care tax has lingered the longest on council's plate, with community members showing up at almost every City Council meeting for more than two months to campaign for it. The board of First Impressions came before City Council on June 19 to pitch the item.
Ken Brenner, a board member of First Impressions and a city councilman, said the child-care group had not met together since the last council meeting.
The group is hoping that a better representation of why they need the money might help it get its proposal on the ballot, he said.
Renee Donahue, the community liaison of First Impressions, said the group had discussed the possibility of "means testing" the users of child care for things such as income to determine if they really do need the subsidy. City Council had urged the group to make sure the taxpayer-financed subsidy did not go to those who did not in fact need it.
The chamber's sales-tax proposal to help subsidize the airline guarantee program and other transit items has gone through a few variations. The group, however, has landed on a proposal it thinks will fly with the city. Pushing still to keep the brunt of the tax on visitors by primarily taxing tourist amenities and lodging, the chamber has now decided to give the city $500,000 of the subsidy for Steamboat Springs Transit, asking Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. to pay $500,000 to the airline program to help make up the difference.
The city's proposal and the affordable-housing proposal will both be new to City Council if they are discussed on Tuesday. The city may be looking at adding a property tax or replacing the .1 percent in sales tax the state relinquished this year with an addition to the city sales tax.