Steamboat Springs Routt County commissioners were pleased last week to hear that the Steamboat Springs City Council postponed approval of an urban renewal authority. But at least one commissioner remains concerned about the deteriorating relationship between the two governments.
Commissioner Nancy Stahoviak said she worries that some council members are allowing the contentious justice center issue to influence their decisions on other issues affecting the two entities.
When the City Council voted 5-2 last week to table until Jan. 18 a plan that would create a URA to fund improvements near the base of the Steamboat Ski Area, councilwoman Nancy Kramer questioned the city's desire to strengthen relationships "with other entities that have not shown us the mutual respect that we are going to extend to them."
The council's decision to put off approving the URA was motivated by concerns expressed by the county and Steamboat Springs School District.
It's not the first time the city and the county have disagreed. The city previously objected to the commissioners' decision to build a courthouse west of downtown Steamboat, a decision the county has stood by steadfastly. The commissioners also objected to the city's filing for recreational water rights.
On Monday, Stahoviak said it's unfair for council members to compare the justice center issue with that of the URA.
"The county is not asking anything of the city for the justice center," Stahoviak said during the commissioners' media briefing. The URA, on the other hand, would strip the county of some of its property tax revenue.
"The city isn't asking to implement a new tax," Stahoviak said. "They're asking to take some of our tax."
The URA would be funded through the increase in property taxes created by new development or redevelopment within the boundaries of the plan. Those tax dollars otherwise would go to the county or school district. The funds would be used to pay for public improvements in the vicinity of the Steamboat Ski Area's base.
County commissioners have said they are not opposed to a URA, but think there are issues that need to be addressed before the authority is approved by the city.
On Monday, county commissioners re-emphasized some of those concerns, including that the URA, as proposed, doesn't include the use of city sales tax revenue. Using sales tax revenue would ensure that the city contributes to base area improvements, too, Stahoviak said.
She also questioned the proposed boundaries of the URA and whether they should be minimized to ensure that only areas that need to be improved are part of the authority.
Despite recent disagreements, Stahoviak said the county and city have worked together on many issues in the past, adding that it's inevitable that issues arise where the two entities disagree.
Stahoviak and fellow commissioners Dan Ellison and Doug Monger praised the council's decision to postpone the approval of the URA.
"The fact they're allowing some time to work those things out is a positive thing," Ellison said.
Monger suggested the creation of an urban renewal committee to discuss the issues surrounding the URA's creation.
"I hope we don't put this on the back burner and (that we) continue to move forward with this thing," Monger said.