Tax board wants money for writer

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— Steamboat Springs City Council members balked at the Tax Policy Advisory Board's request for $5,000 to hire a professional to write its final report.

At Tuesday's City Council meeting, tax board co-chairman Ken Solomon said the group thinks an impartial, professional writer is needed to organize the group's final report. The group has been meeting for the past six months.

It would take between 40 and 60 hours to write the report, Solomon said, and the writer would have to do interviews with all the group members. The group did not want a city staff person to do the writing, Solomon said, to avoid the perception it was a city-driven document.

The board also wanted to create a document that the community will want to read, Solomon said, which would take the skills of a professional writer.

The council said the group could do more research on hiring a professional writer, but did not say it would support the $5,000 price tag.

"I think we are all a little concerned about the cost," Councilman Steve Ivancie said. "It should be considered about what the group could do to make the number a little more palatable.

Council President Paul Strong worried about the precedence the funding could set. He said other advisory groups, such as the soon-to-be-formed growth management advisory group, could start expecting the same money.

"If we set up other boards, are they going to come back and ask us for money?" Strong asked.

Councilwoman Kathy Connell said she was concerned about who the group would pick to write the final report. Solomon said that he had contacted a number of writers and that the tax group would make the final selection on what writer it would choose.

"This is a lot of money, and I am very concerned with (picking) that perfect person," Connell said.

The tax policy group was formed this winter with the intent to present to the city a recommendation of an overall tax structure for the city. The group has said its recommendation would come out late this fall.

Solomon said at least 80 percent of the revenue analysis is complete. The group is working on policy recommendations and future financial needs.

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