City Council to review URA plan

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— The Base Area Reinvestment Coalition will come before City Council tonight to present its redevelopment plan.

A coalition of mountain business leaders is proposing an urban renewal authority that would raise funds to refurbish public facilities near the aging base of the ski resort.

Under state law, a vote by the public is not needed to put an authority in place, but it does require approval by the City Council.

Whitney Ward, a member of the coalition, said the money raised by the authority is strictly used for projects with public benefits, such as heated sidewalks, escalators, public art or day lighting Burgess Creek Road.

"It has really gone into disrepair. It is stuck in the 1970s," Ward said of the base area.

In its letter to the council, the coalition said it has completed the petition required under state statute to form an urban renewal authority as well as an additional petition signed by supportive stakeholders and area residents.

"We are prepared to officially submit these petitions if council is prepared to take over the responsibilities involved at this time," the letter reads.

The group's proposal is for the authority to capture a fraction of property tax revenues resulting from development and redevelopment of land at the base to fund public improvements. The urban renewal authority would generate $5 million to $10 million during its 25-year lifetime without im-posing a new tax on property owners, coalition members have said.

David Baldinger Jr., Chris Diamond, Chuck Porter and Peter Patten also are part of the Base Area Reinvestment Coalition.

Ward, the developer of the proposed Wildhorse Meadows, said the properties within the authority's boundaries would be assessed for a base value. After the date of the assessed base value, anything above the base value, minus inflation, would be assessed. The added value would be taxed and that tax given to the authority for 10 to 20 years.

The property owners would not have to pay any new taxes, but new tax revenue that would otherwise come into Routt County over the10 to 20 years would go to the authority instead.

The Steamboat Springs School District would be exempted from passing on the additional tax revenue and the City Council does not have a property tax.

The coalition said the tax revenues will be set aside to pay off bonds issued by the urban renewal authority to pay for public improvements. Ward believes even though the county will not be getting the additional revenue from the growth in the base area, the improvements will spark added development elsewhere, bringing in more money.

"They are going to get the benefit of the increase," Ward said.

The coalition took the proposal to Routt County commissioners in June. The commissioners supported the concept but stressed the need for very limited boundaries within the ski area.

The commissioners also noted that since the city does not have any property tax, a true proposal would include sales tax as well so that the city also would be committed.



-- To reach Christine Metz call 871-4229

or e-mail cmetz@steamboatpilot.com

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