Main Street Steamboat Springs manager Tracy Barnett discusses what happens now that a majority of property voters decided not to fund the downtown district.
Steamboat Springs A property tax increase for the Downtown Steamboat Springs Business Improvement District was defeated by only six votes in a special election Tuesday.
The 2.5-mill levy property tax increase, defeated, 62-68, would have provided an estimated $120,000 a year to fund marketing, advocacy and parking management efforts downtown, as well as potential beautification projects.
"We're disappointed," said Bill Moser, chairman of the district's board. "And in the light of the public's reaction to some pretty heavy tax proposals, we came so close."
Voting was only open to those living within the district's designated boundaries - between Yampa and Oak streets from Second to 13th streets and was carried out in a special election with ballots separate from those in Steamboat Springs and the rest of Routt County.
Without these additional property tax funds, the district will have to go into "bare bones mode," according to Tracy Barnett, executive director of Mainstreet Steamboat Springs.
When Mainstreet Steamboat Springs was first formed, the city committed to three years of funding. However, those funds will dry up in 2008, and the tax levy for the district was meant to be a more permanent source of funding for downtown business advocacy efforts, Barnett said.
"We're going to have to go back out and collect dues next year, which we weren't planning to do," Barnett said.
The additional funds also would have allowed Mainstreet to expand its staff beyond just Barnett to possibly include a special events coordinator or an employee responsible for marketing and branding.
"We can still function, we just can't add all the extra services and things that we were going to do," Barnett said. "We'll go back to regular Mainstreet programs at this point, and just continue the way we're doing that."
The district's board will have to look for consensus on alternative sources of funding, Moser said.
"We're still anxious to support the downtown vitality in any way we can," he said.
Despite the failure of the ballot measure, Barnett said she was very pleased with voter turnout for the special election.
"It was a really big turnout for a district our size," she said. "In many communities, even on the Front Range, they don't get 130 votes when they're doing a district like ours."