Steamboat Springs A proposed $34 million recreation center that would have been funded by Steamboat Springs property taxes failed miserably in Tuesday's election. Almost 80 percent of city voters cast "no" ballots for Referendums 2B and 2C.
"From the beginning, property tax is a tough sell," said Marc Fraioli, co-chairman of Citizens for a Community Recreation Center, which raised more than $12,000 in its efforts to get the ballot initiatives to pass.
The ballot initiatives would have instituted the city's first property tax.
An organized effort to oppose the recreation center began only last month. The margin of Tuesday's defeat indicates it may not have been necessary.
Michael Turner, a contributor to the No 2B/2C committee, called the group a "haphazard and disheveled" one. No 2B/2C organizer John Mertz said he formed the committee because he perceived there was no organized opposition. He said all he did was coordinate a resistance that already existed.
"I believe that our opposition had some effect on how some people voted," Turner said. "But all in all, I believe that the proposed recreation center defeated itself by a combination of the massive scope of the project trying to fit everything imaginable into it along with the fact that it was going to introduce a property tax to the city of Steamboat Springs for the first time."
Fraioli said he is proud that recreation center proponents brought the issue to the forefront and got the ballot questions in front of voters. He hopes the next City Council will give the center consideration and find a more palatable funding source.
"I think you'll see a regrouping of this and a rekindling," Fraioli said. "I don't think it takes the wind out of our sails."
Going forward, Mertz said any future proposals need to comprehensively determine the needs of the community.
The construction, operation and maintenance of the proposed facility at Ski Town Fields would have cost Steamboat taxpayers as much as $3.4 million in additional property taxes next year, not including users' fees.
That increase would have meant an additional $33 a year, per $100,000 of estimated market value for residential taxpayers, and an additional $121 a year per $100,000 of estimated market value for commercial taxpayers, according to calculations by Bob Litzau, the city's interim finance director.
The rec center would have included indoor lap and leisure pools, a double-size gymnasium, an expansive fitness center, teen and youth areas, an indoor playground and an outdoor, privately funded skatepark.