Downtown tax district moving ahead

Petition nearly done; City Council again tables housing ordinance first reading


— A special tax district to help fund marketing and infrastructure improvements in downtown Steamboat Springs is gaining support from local business owners.

Jane Blackstone, consultant for the Downtown Steamboat Springs Business Improvement District Steering Committee, said the committee has gathered petition signatures from business owners representing 46 percent of commercial acreage downtown and 48 percent of downtown's assessed commercial value. In order to submit a valid petition to city officials, signatures representing 50 percent of both criteria are needed. Such a petition would be a large step toward placing a business improvement district on November's ballot.

At a meeting of the Steamboat Springs City Council on Tuesday night, Blackstone said the committee hopes to submit a valid petition next week. One obstacle is a lack of signatures from Yampa Valley Electric Association, or YVEA, which owns substantial land downtown. Blackstone said YVEA has expressed concerns that if a tax district were created and fees charged to YVEA for downtown improvements, the cost of those fees would have to be passed on to YVEA customers - including those who live outside of downtown.

Tracy Barnett, program manager for Main Street, has said a downtown tax district 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. The tax district would generate revenue through increased property taxes or fees, to be used for services ranging from snow removal to possible construction of a parking garage.

Tax increases or fees would apply only to commercial properties, not residences, according to Steamboat Springs Finance Director Don Taylor.

City Councilman Paul Strong said Tuesday excluding YVEA from a downtown tax district would be a mistake.

"I think they should be in," Strong said. "The amount that will be spread across all the payers would be very small - we're talking about cents."

Blackstone said discussions with YVEA are continuing. Councilman Loui Antonucci questioned whether additional fees for electric customers could be a factor in a ballot issue next fall.

Also Tuesday, the City Council:

n Again tabled its first reading of proposed revisions to the city's inclusionary zoning ordinance, which regulates how the city provides affordable housing. The council also tabled the first reading last month, citing a need for more input and discussion. "We're not in a big hurry to rush forward," Councilman Ken Brenner said. "We want to hear from the (Steamboat Springs) Planning Commission, and we want to continue hearing from the community at large." The council will next take up the issue May 15.

n Passed a resolution acknowledging May as Historic Preservation Month, and heard a presentation of Main Street Steamboat Springs' new "historic preservation ethic," which promises to preserve Steamboat's "unique community character through a commitment to the recognized standards of practice in historic preservation." Barnett said the ethic is "not conditional - we're going to uphold it."

n Approved a $135,000 grant from Great Outdoors Colorado to help fund an extension of the Yampa River Core Trail at its southern terminus.

n Agreed to a request by Councilman Strong to have city staff prepare a list of consultants and studies recently funded by the city, including the purpose and cost of each funding allocation.

n Formally met Danny Mulcahy, a partner in Steamboat 700 LLC, which recently closed on the $24.6 million purchase of 540 acres west of downtown, near the Silver Spur subdivision. Steamboat 700 also is under contract to buy 160 adjoining acres. Mulcahy said preliminary planning for the site is underway, he is meeting with city planning staff, and he hopes to begin working with the city on proposals as soon as this summer.


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