County: URA proposal rushed

City Council will consider plan at tonight's meeting

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Routt County commissioners said Monday that they are concerned about the process to create an urban renewal authority.

"The commissioners don't see a need to rush into this," Routt County Commissioner Doug Monger said.

Commissioner Nancy Stahoviak, speaking from the Doak Walker Care Center, where she is recovering from knee surgery, said, "It seems to me that there's just a little too much of a hurry on this issue, when it's a very important issue."

The Steamboat Springs City Council could pass a resolution tonight to create a financing district that would use part of the property taxes collected from the base of the Steamboat Ski Area for public improvement projects in the area.

David Baldinger Jr., who is spearheading the effort to create the URA, said he did not think the process was rushed, as it has been in the works for about a year.

One concern from county commissioners was that more specifics on the plan, including the urban renewal plan and a study on the condition of the area, were not available.

Baldinger said those documents have just been finished.

The sooner the URA is created, the sooner the URA will be able to capture the incremental property tax revenue, or the new tax revenue created by new development or redevelopment in the area, he said.

County commissioners, however, said they feel it already is too late to establish a plan that could take a portion of 2004 taxes.

Also, the assessed value of property across the county was updated Dec. 1 and will hold the same until August 2005, so there should not be a rush to adopt a plan, Monger said.

Monger plans to present a letter from Routt County Assessor Amy Williams to the Steamboat Springs City Council at its meeting tonight.

"I think it's important for us," Monger said. "We're making an investment here, too, and we'd like to be at the table."

As other similar proposals could come in the future, Monger said he thinks it's especially important to do this first one right.

Because the authority is proposed to operate from property tax revenue, it directly will affect Routt County and the Steamboat Springs School District.

If the City Council creates the authority tonight, the Steamboat Springs Planning Commission will review the URA plan, with final approval of the URA scheduled for Dec. 21.

Baldinger emphasized that these approvals only set up the authority and do not make decisions about what projects can be done, so there is a lot of time for the community, city and county to determine what the URA will try to accomplish.

Funds from sales tax revenues also should be involved somehow, Stahoviak said, so the city has a financial stake in the project, as well.

Stahoviak said she thinks "there's a right way to do things," in which all officials involved know all the necessary details.

"I don't think we're quite there yet," she said.

-- To reach Susan Cunningham, call 871-4203 or e-mail sbacon@steamboatpilot.com

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