Council outlines group's makeup

Tax policy group to be formed

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The Steamboat Springs City Council said a tax policy group should look at all potential revenue sources and a mix of revenue sources before making a recommendation to the council on its tax system.

The tax group also could examine the city's expenditures, the City Council said.

The makeup and direction of a citizen-based tax policy group was one of the focuses of Tuesday's tax policy discussion. More than a dozen residents came to hear a presentation on the city's tax system and the council's discussion on how the group would be formed.

The council decided that the tax policy group should be made up of nine members, with at least five but no more than seven coming from within the city limits. The other members would come from the county.

The council said it did not want to specify what sectors of the community the members came from, but Councilman Ken Brenner did suggest the group should avoid having more than one member representing the same sector.

The group would be expected to give a report or some kind of recommendation to council by June.

Councilwoman Kathy Connell said it was important to have representation from outside the city limits because property taxes could impact county residents, as well.

"When we set a tax and the county sets a tax, it impacts all of us," Connell said.

The longest discussion revolved around what the direction the tax policy group should take. Councilwoman Susan Dellinger said the group's mission should be to examine other revenue sources and to see if the city needed more revenue.

Other council members suggested that the group also should look at the city's budget and where its money is being spent.

"It is just as important to look at the expenditure half of the deal," Brenner said. "In order to justify any type of tax revenue change, even a switch of some type, we are going to have to convince voters that we took the time to look at it carefully."

One of the suggested changes in tax policy would be to impose a property tax and reduce the sales tax. The change would generate the same amount of revenue, but spread the burden of taxes differently.

Councilman Loui Antonucci said a property tax could have the potential to negatively impact certain sectors of the community.

"We already have a community going the wrong way when it comes to affordable housing," he said. "We already have a retail sector going through some pretty tough times with the Gallagher Amendment, and commercial is going to get hit harder than anyone else."

In his presentation, City Manager Paul Hughes said that out of the 270 municipalities in Colorado, Steamboat is one of nine without a property tax.

Hughes pointed to budget numbers over the past five to seven years and noted there had not been a dramatic increase in spending and that spending per capita had gone down.

Hughes said stability is one of the desirable traits of a good tax system and a sales tax is not the most stable revenue option.

-- To reach Christine Metz call 871-4229

or e-mail cmetz@steamboatpilot.com

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