Ray Tischina, of Chicago, left, has eight seconds to reach the other side of Lincoln Avenue on Thursday, at least according to a crosswalk signal timer. Money from a potential downtown taxation district could go toward intersection upgrades that would make crossing downtown streets easier for pedestrians.

Photo by Matt Stensland

Ray Tischina, of Chicago, left, has eight seconds to reach the other side of Lincoln Avenue on Thursday, at least according to a crosswalk signal timer. Money from a potential downtown taxation district could go toward intersection upgrades that would make crossing downtown streets easier for pedestrians.

Getting downtown dollars

Main Street looking for stable funding for improvements

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Ray Tischina, of Chicago, left, has eight seconds to reach the other side of Lincoln Avenue on Thursday, at least according to a crosswalk signal timer. Money from a potential downtown taxation district could go toward intersection upgrades that would make crossing downtown streets easier for pedestrians.

— A special taxation district for downtown Steamboat Springs could be on this year's ballot.

For the second time in six months, Main Street Steamboat Springs is considering a way to establish stable, long-term funding for downtown improvements such as increased snow removal and marketing, intersection upgrades and even a parking garage.

For the second time in six months, Main Street Steamboat Springs is considering a way to establish stable, long-term funding for downtown improvements such as increased snow removal and marketing, intersection upgrades and even a parking garage.

Main Street officials hosted two meetings this week with downtown property owners and commercial tenants to discuss the formation of a business improvement district, which would generate revenue through increased property taxes or "special assessment" fees related to specific services.

Tracy Barnett, program manager for Main Street, said a downtown BID would apply "with some tweaks" to businesses between Second Street and 13th Street, from the Yampa River to the alley between Oak and Pine streets.

"We're in the feasibility phase," Barnett said.

Barnett said input from the two meetings, along with surveys given to 40 downtown owners and tenants, will be used to determine what improvements downtown businesses want.

"The next step is to put together those surveys, put together a work plan, then see if people would be willing to pay for the things in that work plan," Barnett said Thursday.

In order for the Steamboat Springs City Council to create a BID downtown, Main Street officials need to submit a petition signed by property owners who account for 50 percent of the district's acreage and 50 percent of the district's assessed property value.

If the council received the petition and created a downtown BID, voters in the district would need to approve the district's funding in November.

Barnett said about 10 business owners attended each meeting this week. Property owners were more receptive to a BID than commercial tenants, she said.

"Tenants are already feeling strapped," Barnett said. "But I don't think they're seeing that small increases can make a significant difference."

In addition to funding small projects downtown, establishing a BID would provide an entity for a long-term bond that could fund capital projects such as a parking garage, Barnett said.

"We think this would enhance the viability of downtown," said downtown property owner Bill Moser, a member of the Main Street Board of Directors. "I figure the tax burden would be one or two bucks a day."

Tax increases or special assessments related to a BID would apply only to commercial properties, not residences, according to Steamboat Springs Finance Director Don Taylor.

In August, Main Street officials asked the City Council to implement the city's Urban Renewal Authority downtown. Unlike a business improvement district, a URA is not an additional tax. Instead, a URA diverts revenues from annual tax-increase increments into a fund used to spur redevelopment in a specified district.

"They are both special districts, but they are statutorily authorized to do different things," Taylor said about a BID and a URA.

The city created its URA in December 2004. In January 2005, the city implemented the URA in an area around the base of Steamboat Ski Area.

At a meeting Sept. 12, the City Council denied Main Street's request due to a lack of information regarding the needs and intents for a downtown URA.

"I don't want to take any steps forward until we know where we're going and what we want to achieve," council member Loui Antonucci said at the time.

Comments

ranch76 7 years, 8 months ago

Please add handicap parking on Main Street. I found it hard to believe that there isn't any!

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