Recreation center tanks

Voters overwhelmingly defeat Referendums 2B, 2C

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Election 2007: Time for change

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2007 Election, How Routt County voted

Precinct by precinct breakdown of how Routt County voted

— 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.

Comments

thefarmer 6 years, 10 months ago

Mr. Fraioli, it would appear you never had wind in your sails. Just what part of a 80% NO don't you understand?

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Oscar 6 years, 10 months ago

The people behind the rec center proposal don't seen to understand what it is that city govenment should provide with OUR tax money and what they should not. The rec center is the almost the last thing we need to provide with city tax money. I say almost because (although it's too late now), the very last thing we needed with city tax money was a tennis center. Hopefully the new council will seek to spend OUR tax money more wisely.

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Zalobar 6 years, 10 months ago

I owe the voters of routt co. an appology. You are a lot smarter and more informed that I was giving you credit for. Thank you all. pt22 said the rest. R-O-L-A-I-D-S !!

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autumnwitch 6 years, 10 months ago

I live outside city limits and I would have voted no as well

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buck 6 years, 10 months ago

Rec center pushers - please do not come back with another ballot measure on this. Four out of five voted no. Changing a few things like the funding mechanism or reducing the cost would not have changed the outcome. Look for a private funding mechanism and build it that way, or work with the Spa and Rec center to incorporate your wants into their next expansion plan. Or move back to the big city that has these amentities. My guess is that, even had this passed, many of you would have moved from the Yampa Valley before the rec center was built anyway.

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Brianna 6 years, 10 months ago

All other towns are wrong for having a rec center and you are right. Your town is falling way behind all other resort towns and I think its only going to get worse. I know, none of you rely on the visitor to earn a living. If I was a sheep in Steamboat right now, I would be very scared.

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PRoni 6 years, 10 months ago

Let's all join hands and hope we are falling behind in a big way. Fall behind to save the 'boat.

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Matthew Stoddard 6 years, 10 months ago

Oh- as for Miss Information, Google Cheech & Chong, along with...ummm...a certain feminine hygiene product, and you'll understand.

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Scott Wedel 6 years, 10 months ago

The problem was not the funding mechanism.

The problem was the rec center on the ballot was a wish list of ideas without a fixed construction cost from a city that has consistently experienced cost overruns of 50% or more for an indoor rec center in one of the great outdoor rec areas.

I think 2B and 2C is why City Council incumbents did so poorly. They were so out of touch that they thought it was a good idea that should pass.

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id04sp 6 years, 10 months ago

80% of you are beautiful people.

And 67% of you.

Thanks. xoxoxox

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justathought 6 years, 10 months ago

Scott, I stated [There is a very good chance the 80% that voted no just didn't want to pay for it, period.], so no, it should not be built using any taxpayer money. My last statement about working within their budget was not intended for the rec center issue, I believe the people have voiced their opinion on that loud and clear.

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francismadge 6 years, 10 months ago

I also live outside city limits & would have voted no had I the chance. We need a pool for swim team - true. Put one at a school. We need an alternative to McDonalds to play at on poor weather days - true. Let a private company open this or maybe get a childrens museum going again. We need a place to play hoops - PUT A GYM AT STRAWBERRY PARK ELEMENTARY SCHOOL! We dont need a 34 mill. paid for thru more taxs for a swanky new rec center. Well done voters! You spoke for me.

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jaunty 6 years, 10 months ago

"The ballot initiatives would have instituted the city's first property tax."

Please, Pilot and Today reporters, stop repeating this untruth. The city had property taxes in earlier years but did away with them sometime in the 1970s.

First a sales tax was put in place. Then, as I recall, the City Council doubled the percentage of sales tax to be collected with the accompanying promise that this would replace any property tax.

Look it up.

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RoxyDad 6 years, 10 months ago

Look at the time and energy that was spent on a project that was not wanted by 80% of the people! The people that pushed this should have had a better idea of what the citizens wanted or did not want. This huge waste of public money and time getting this on the ballet should make those involved ashamed of themselves. The voters have spoken.

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Tracy Barnett 6 years, 10 months ago

The voters may have voted down the current proposal for a rec center, but that does not necessarily mean that they don't want one. The method of financing was wrong. The financing would have landed primarily on the backs of commercial property owners (and ultimately their tenants) within the city limits. This question should include all the potential users in the valley. Certainly those outside of the city limits would like to have had a say in whether a rec center gets built. A good portion of people who call themselves Steamboaters (is that right?) live outside our city's boundaries. If you come back with an additional proposal, at least figure out a way to include all of the people who could help finance it. A recreation district, sales tax and a private funding campaign are all possibilities.

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justathought 6 years, 10 months ago

Scott [The problem was not the funding mechanism.], I guess that is supposed to be your opinion. There is a very good chance the 80% that voted no just didn't want to pay for it, period. Even if the city didn't have a problem with cost overruns and if they had a fixed construction cost, it's possible the majority of the no voters are just tired of government reaching into taxpayer pockets to fund special interest want-to-haves. This council may turn out to be smart enough to work within their budget and quit trying raise taxes for a while, one can only hope.

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Scott Wedel 6 years, 10 months ago

justathought, So if the City tried paying for the rec center from within their budget which is still a possibility then you'd have supported spending that amount of money for a rec center?

The rec center failed because it asked for a lot of money for a lot of years for something that isn't needed. It would have failed regardless of whether the money came from new property taxes, new sales taxes or was funded from the City's budget via existing taxes.

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bubba 6 years, 10 months ago

Scott, I disagreed with you initially, but I think we are defining 'funding mechanism' differently. I would approve of the rec center proponents funding this through private enterprise, public/private partnership, or even through their own donations, but the public's tax money is not the right funding mechanism, whether you levy a new tax, or cut spending on roads and schools to get it done, so in my mind, the funding mechanism is 100% of the problem with this thing- it needs a mechanism other than the taxpayer's money.

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Scott Wedel 6 years, 10 months ago

Fundamental problem with the proposed rec center was with the proposal. The stuff for school kids belongs at the schools. Other stuff belonged at the downtown health and rec center.

The proposed rec center was a perfect example of how government projects escalate in cost as they add features to buy the support of different special interest groups.

I think we will see public funding requests for much of what was requested, just from different sources. There is already a schools playground committee. Anyone doubt they'll consider significant indoor playground facilities at the school? Or more gyms? Or a swimming pool? Though with likely funding from the Educational Fund Board, they will obviously try hard to avoid proposing something so expensive that would require asking for a tax hike from the voters.

And when health and rec says they have outgrown their downtown site then maybe the taxpayer will be asked to build a second facility.

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Lura 6 years, 10 months ago

I believe the rec center failed because it was an extravagance for a small community. Interestingly, I participated in a phone survey several months ago that was obviously measuring interest in this topic. There were three "packages" being evaluated, with the most expensive package eventually being included on the ballot. I think the lesson to be learned from polls/surveys like that is that many people will cavalierly say "sure, that sounds great" when asked anonymously about spending on some hypothetical issue. So proponents of the issue get a false sense of support. (However, like Amy Winehouse, I said no, no, no.) But when the rubber hits the road, we take a more cautious approach. That happened here, thankfully. I hope it isn't resurrected.

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Harvey Lyon 6 years, 10 months ago

To Brianna,

In many ways you are correct....however...Steamboat needs to do things their way in their time. In the short term we will miss opportunities but in the long term we'll still have options.

We appreciate your visiting very much and would welcome you as a neighbor but we like to move slowly and observe the Elk, Deer and Antelope. We prefer dirt roads and 25mph speed limits. Hopefully this sets us apart but if not...well things were good 20 yrs ago, things have been good thru present and things will remain good for the future even if our bank accounts are a bit lighter.

We'll build a pool and rec center when "it's time" as determined by the local populance.

Thanks for coming here and I hope to see you this winter and next summer.

All the best!!!! Seriously!!!!

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Matthew Stoddard 6 years, 10 months ago

PT22- With your own statement, you just bashed most of your reasoning for not supporting a tax for the Rec Center. All that construction YOU just pointed out would have "spread the wealth" pertaining to funding the Center, proving most of Books' and BoulderGrad's points. Good job!! Miss Information won out and you just admitted it. Could have used that statement from you earlier.

Now- let's see what that tax revenue does if the snow decides to keep waiting to fall.

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Matthew Stoddard 6 years, 10 months ago

I'm a Republican, actually, and adding another amenity to Steamboat can help bring more dollars all the way around, plain and simple. That's good business sense and it's been proven in other communities, as we all know you've ignored.

I'm sure a majority of ranchers and miners didn't think we needed a ski hill, but lo and behold: Howelsen Hill helped put Steamboat on the map by producing more Winter Olympians than anywhere else in the nation. I'm pretty sure the City owns that, right? Didn't putting Steamboat on the map make it more desirable to buy a house here, and doesn't that desirability increase the capacity for turning your home around and selling it for a higher profit?

Plus, why collect money if not to spend it? Money means nothing if you do nothing with it.

cripes- for someone who said they weren't sbvor, you're reading the same limericks off the same bathroom stall door

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cappel77 6 years, 10 months ago

I couldn't be happier that the proposed rec. center failed...miserably! I think a lot ppl weren't opposed to the rec. center itself, just the way it would be funded to be built and ran. I was very nervous when this issue first came up but the ppl have spoken and they said no way. I really hope the skate park comes through though. Give the kids the bear river parcel and pour some concrete already!!!

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another_local 6 years, 10 months ago

kielbasa, speaking of making points for the other side! Your comment "why collect money if not to spend it?" is right on point except you drew the wrong conclusion: the voters voted for the other option you seem to have forgotten; they voted not to collect the money....

I have never seen a ballot issue on anything go 80/20. 60/40 is considered a resounding win or loss with 50% more on one side than the other. This failed by 4 to one! Most ideas or candidates that have enough support to get on the ballot do a lot better that than even if they loose. It just shows how wide of the mark the supporters of this idea really were.

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bubba 6 years, 10 months ago

I thought we'd be done arguing over this thing once it got shot down in flames....

Matthew, I really don't think that a rec center would bring that many dollars to the town. Picture this: 'Honey, do you want to spend 1500 dollars to fly the family to steamboat for christmas break this year, and spend 200 bucks a night on a hotel room? I know it's a lot, but I hear they have this bitching swimming pool!'

Nobody takes vacations because of rec centers, except the consultants who's survey found that we want one- I am sure they had a great company vacation once the check cleared!

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Matthew Stoddard 6 years, 10 months ago

Bubba- as I've said in the past, since my job for the last 16yrs has been dealing with bringing tourists to Steamboat: I've already encountered these questions and situations many time, every season. Will they come SPECIFICALLY for the Rec Center? No. Would it have been another selling point? Yes.

An extra selling point furthers the desirability of a destination resort. Remember when skier days were beginning to lag and Steamboat (and other resorts) hadn't fully allowed snowboarders on all terrain. They do now, which allowed those numbers to climb again.

Look at summer tourism: it was non-existant until when: Triple Crown Sports. (Labor Day bookings started earlier due to the now, non-existant races). Hiking, biking, etc., was available long before it came, but there wasn't enough tourism to sustain businesses to keep open year-round over most of Steamboat. In fact, Labor Day still doesn't bring the percentage of dollars as it used to with the races. It means, people said "There's nothing to do for Labor Day in Steamboat. Let's go elsewhere."

another_local- Granted, the city voted not to collect the money, but my point was in response to PT's allusion to not spending money just because we have it. I do notice that you didn't dispute that the added construction would help lessen the burden per individual, or that the possible inclusion/annexation of 700 thru Stmbt II would spread that out further.

Either way, it's a moot point now.

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beagle 6 years, 10 months ago

I though pt22 was already kicked off of here for being an obnoxious jerk. No?

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Books 6 years, 10 months ago

So,,, we still need a rec center.

Only 3400 voted. We only need 1000 of the vote no folks to change their minds.

I think Towny got it backwards. It was the city council and the way they voted to fund it that brought it down. I'm glad to see them all go.

pt - are you back? I thought you died.

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elkeye 6 years, 10 months ago

books....give it up.

You and BoulderGrad found out just how small a group supported your white elephant.

If you still need a rec. center, I suggest that you start a private fund raising program and build one.

If another rec center proposal is presented to the new city council, I can only hope that it does not require any taxpayer funding! If taxpayer support is required, I hope the new city council remembers that only 20% of the voters supported your prior proposal.

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jlkar 6 years, 10 months ago

hey Sausage boy- June 30, 2002: "Routt Co. Spotlight on Matthew Stoddard":

Q. What are the best and least favorite things about living in Routt County?

A. The best is Seventh Street Playhouse. The worst is the "I Need a Tax for Everything" craziness.

Hmmmmm, guess someone had a little change of heart. Eat your words Stoddard.

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Matthew Stoddard 6 years, 10 months ago

Yep- I will eat those words with relish and mustard. Some of my views have grown with me in the past 5 years, since my own chosen party keeps spending with no income to support it. Message: "I'm not stuck in the past." Heck- go back further in my life when I wanted to be a super-hero. My views on that changed in the last 35yrs, too.

Two things have changed since that profile: 7th St. Playhouse was torn down and so have options to keep Steamboat viable as a resort destination.

Show me who you are so I can dig up any inconsistancies in your life, as I allow to be done to me willingly. Will you take that challenge? Maybe a little crow in your diet you'd like to purge?

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jlkar 6 years, 10 months ago

Ahh, Matthew. What fun that would be but alas, I chose to remain anonymous- like Batman, you know, you read comics. That way my "zinging" powers can't be traced. Ahahahaa.

I am not mentioning anything that isn't relevant here. You just happen to to have changed your mind...because...the playhouse was torn down and because Steamboat isn't a viable resort destination anymore?? Really? Wow. That sure is news to the rest of the town and the new-comers vomiting money like they just ate a crow of their own.

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Matthew Stoddard 6 years, 10 months ago

jlkar- And "sausage boy?" Is that truly the best you can do? LOL! Please! If you're going to try and insult me, you need to be more creative than that. LOL! I'll at least give props to PT22 on the wienerschnitzel comment, and the "I'll bite..." Very funny and appropriate!

For PT- I'm not saying it's the end of the town. I'm telling you how it goes. Developer were here in the 80's also and over developed lodging. Were you here to remember that housing bust? Meadows at Eagleridge changed contract ownership some 3 or 4 times in 5yrs, and still had nobody buying them or occupying them for a few years after that.

The Highmark (read: old Chadwick) isn't selling too quickly right now. Do you think all of Cook's projects are going to sell that quickly? I don't. Granted, I don't know for sure, but I don't see many people who line up to buy a loft overlooking a highway thru downtown.

As for the new owners of the mountain- ASC put some (read: little) money into the mountain...at first; just like all others who've owned the mountain. Then, it goes to pot for a decade. Intrawest has me excited. We'll see how long that lasts.

And again- 2nd home owners don't add to the workforce; in fact, they are the cause for needing more of a workforce. But you are right, and time will tell.

I kept it simple: I wanted to be Superman. Now, I want to be a pro-wrestling manager: Matt "The Mind" Stoddard!" LOL!

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jlkar 6 years, 10 months ago

I'm not trying to insult you- just some neighborly jesting. And give credit to PT22 for the Sausage Boy as well, I stole it from him. What a loser I am.

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jlkar 6 years, 10 months ago

Maybe we could start Vowel Tax for him. Whaddya say, Vienna "Beef" White?

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Matthew Stoddard 6 years, 10 months ago

Great! Too bad it's not a Steamboat industry, though. We are still tourism based, which is why we are stuck in a Sales Tax revenue based system here. We are a resort. More people visit here each year, in short spurts, instead of living here. You can't clean a rental condo or drive a shuttle by fax or email, in the meantime.

Was he sitting in the bookstore on break from working the cash register? I seriously doubt it.

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Payasigo 6 years, 10 months ago

The reason the rec center failed was because a few people wanted the home owners of this town to foot the bill to the tune of $34m. (Memories of the Tennis Dome) At $33 per 100k of property evaluation that worked out in my case at $248 per year without me ever putting a foot inside the building. To those who want this rec center I say get real. I would love to have a $50k vehicle but as I don't have the money I will be contented with my Honda, and the same reasoning applies to you, get out and enjoy what we have here and be thankfull.

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Matthew Stoddard 6 years, 10 months ago

PT- Yes, I did read, but this still is a resort industry and in order for other industries to even want to happen here...we go back to the services and workforce issue again. As I say, "it all goes 'round."

Payasigo- A personally owned vehicle isn't something that gets shared with the community. A Rec Center WILL get used. I can say the same about the Library taxes I pay: why should I pay for a library I don't use, especially with print being so "last millennium," as kids say? Admit it: we are all reading the paper on this site and posting to it, aren't we? In fact, instead of bibliographies, we post links to online, written sources.

Still, we pay taxes for the library district, and the library still gets used...just not by me. It must still be getting use if they are expanding. Regular businesses change their model: Off the Beaten Path started serving food, then wine. Book sales not enough? Granted, that's a private business, but why can't the same be applied to add recreation facilities in a town that is about recreation? Why limit it to just outdoors?

When you lived here 30yrs, and have hiked the mountain, hiked Fish Creek, gone to the Hot Springs, etc., you start looking for other things to do. It's called "being in a rut." I pay taxes that pay for parks I may never use. Maybe those should be privitazed, eh? If they can't be, they should be shut down, right? If it works one way, then lets apply it all the way around. That way, our taxes will pay for police, fire...wait a minute: I haven't had a fire in my home. Why do I need a fire department? Don't tell me it's for prevention: I pay for insurance to rebuild my house, so why should we be paying for a fire district?

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Payasigo 6 years, 10 months ago

Matt, my point was, don't expect too much from our small comunity of households. This was just one item on the list of items that would increase my taxes, and I do not give it the high priority that you seem to do.

Just a matter of priorities, and I think I will find a better use for my $248 each year, and for the next 20 years, than on a rec center.

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dave reynolds 6 years, 10 months ago

the vote reflected the study..correct me if I'm wrong but the study show only 15 or 20 percent would use the rec center I for one don't want my property taxes going to something I'd use occasionally at best

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Matthew Stoddard 6 years, 10 months ago

Payasigo- I can understand your point. To me, because it could help increase the business for my chosen profession, is just 1 reason. I still see it as an asset for the Swim Team. Why not increase our summer Olympian status? How cool would Steamboat be if we could call ourselves Olympian Town, USA, instead of just Ski Town, USA? I like the sound of it, personally.

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colobob 6 years, 10 months ago

Still here but just listening. How about fueling a different fire since this one is out, or a least smoldering. There's always the bypass and the other ill conceived boondoggle that wasn't put on the ballot that will haunt the taxpayers, the IRONHORSE! No thanks necessary for the match. Nice to see a little levity amongst all the sarcasm. At least the overall tone seems to be improving. Have a great night all!

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