County not ready to commit

Commissioners want more information about improvement district

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Downtown district

Creating a funding source for the downtown Business Improvement District will be up to voters this November.

Creating a funding source for the downtown Business Improvement District will be up to voters this November.

— Routt County commissioners want to see a budget before they agree to give money to a newly formed business improvement district in downtown Steamboat Springs.

Tracy Barnett, director of Mainstreet Steamboat Springs, and Bill Moser, chairman of the newly formed district, met with commissioners Tuesday in hopes of getting the county "to solidify its commitment" to the Downtown Steamboat Springs Business Improvement District project.

The business improvement district was formed in June after the Steamboat Springs City Council passed an ordinance to create it. The district will seek a property tax in the fall that will be assessed on businesses within the district's boundaries. Revenues would be used to address downtown business concerns including parking, beautification projects and streetscapes.

Barnett and Moser appeared before the commissioners to request about $25,000 from Routt County. The county is exempt from property taxes and therefore would not be subject to a business improvement district mill levy. The county, which is one of the largest property owners in the district, supported the formation of the district. County officials are trying to determine what would be an appropriate contribution to the business improvement district.

The district's boundaries run from Second to 13th streets and include Yampa and Oak streets and Lincoln Avenue. Only property and business owners living within the district's boundaries are eligible to vote on the proposed mill levy in November, Moser said.

"Most merchants understand that in two, three or five years we won't have a viable downtown unless something changes," he said. "The mountain is growing like bark, and we need to have a voice that will be heard in the wilderness that downtown is the heart and soul of Steamboat Springs."

Moser hopes a mill levy would generate as much as $130,000 to promote special events, develop marketing and beautify the downtown area.

During Tuesday's meeting, commissioners said they would like to see the district's preliminary budget before making a financial commitment.

Barnett said the district's preliminary budget could be available in about two weeks.

"We meant what we said. We're supportive of the downtown district and the rest," Commissioner Doug Monger said. "We need to work on what we feel is appropriate."

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