Thursday, October 30, 2003
As I complete my seven years of service to the residents of Steamboat Springs as your elected City Council person, I ask you to join me in voting "yes" on city Referendum 2A, the 3.55-mill property tax that would fund full-time Fire and Emergency Services and create permanent funding for necessary capital improvements.
Of 279 municipalities in Colorado, only nine do not have a city property tax; Steamboat Springs is one of them (along with Orchard City, Sawpit and Starkville). Interestingly, more than 50 percent of the assessed valuation in the city limits is owned by people who do not live here and who therefore do not pay enough sales tax to cover the city services and facilities they require. Referendum 2A, if it passes, will allow them to invest in the community and pay their fair share. It also will help the city to stabilize its revenues by not relying so heavily on the sales tax that comprises more than 70 percent of the general fund budget.
You will be pleased to know how hard your local government works to leverage your tax dollars to fund community needs. While the national average of income from grants is from 2 percent to 4 percent of a city's revenues, thanks to our excellent staff, Steamboat regularly receives grants that comprise about 10 percent of our annual revenues from public and private sources. It is an extraordinary accomplishment, and we all benefit, but it is not sustainable.
We on the City Council and city staff, your friends and neighbors, have crafted a modest proposal we hope you will support. We know you are thoughtful, intelligent voters. The property tax dollars are dedicated to fire and emergency services, enabling the city to fulfill its agreement with the Steamboat Springs Rural Fire Protection District. The dollars that will become available from the general fund are required, by city ordinance No.1906, to be spent on capital improvements. The Five-Year Capital Improvement Plan was approved by the council earlier this month, and the list of projects to be funded if additional dollars become available can be found at www.yampavalleyinfo.com. Included on that list are what you told us you would support higher taxes for in the 2002 community survey: open space and trails, better streets and intersections, sidewalks and pedestrian improvements, together with investment in the terminal at the Yampa Valley Regional Airport and basic infrastructure. No surprises.
Referendum 2A is about providing all of us with reliable 24/7 fire and emergency services and equipment, and providing the dependable revenues our local government needs to invest in and maintain the basic infrastructure and capital facilities of our community. As someone who has served the community on your behalf, who has studied the issues and consequences, and who cares, I urge you to vote "yes" on Referendum 2A.
Arianthe C. Stettner
Steamboat Springs City Council