City takes another look at taxes

Council to hear pleas from First Impressions, chamber

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— First Impressions, the county's child-care advocacy group, will be making its final plea to City Council tonight to place a half-cent city sales tax on the November ballot.

With a roomful of toddlers and infants present, the Steamboat Springs City Council voted against putting the question on the ballot July 10, citing the fact that First Impressions had done little to incorporate the city's recommendations.

First Impressions has tweaked the proposal to incorporate some of the council's suggestions and will bring it forward in ordinance form. Tonight is the deadline for ballot questions to be presented to the council and passed on first reading. The Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association will also be presenting the council with ballot language for its sales tax on tourist-related items tonight after getting the go-ahead from the council July 10.

Some of the biggest potential changes to the proposal include the elimination of the sales tax on essential food items while maintaining the tax on restaurants; giving part of the money as a subsidy to low-income families while raising the overall price for child care; and potentially pursuing 1 mill in county property taxes.

All three of those suggestions could potentially address some of the council's concerns, including the danger of increasing an already high sales tax on food items. If the county were willing to ask the voters for another mil, that might also address the city's concern that a tax benefiting the entire county was being charged only within the city limits.

Councilman Ken Brenner said he would be stepping down from discussion of the First Impressions proposal because he is on the board of the organization. He had not yet fully reviewed the new proposal.

First Impressions representatives did not return calls Friday. Renee Donahue, the liaison for First Impressions, did not wish to comment on the tax proposal.

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