Mill levy would fund business improvement district

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— Downtown Steamboat Springs commercial property owners and tenants have the option of voting for a tax to fund a business improvement district.

Tracy Barnett, executive director of Main Street Steamboat Springs, said the proposed 2.5 mill levy would generate about $120,000 a year to fund support for marketing, advocacy and parking management efforts for downtown Steamboat Springs businesses.

The recently formed Downtown Steamboat Springs Business Improvement District is designed to offer support to downtown businesses. The district's boundaries run from Second to 13th streets, between Yampa and Oak streets.

The mill levy would be funded through a property tax. Only downtown business owners and commercial tenants are eligible to vote for the mill levy. Residents living within the district's boundaries are not eligible to vote on the issue.

However, business owners and tenants who want to vote on the issue must request a designation of elector form and ballot by Oct. 20, Barnett said. Ballots will be mailed from Oct. 12 to 22 and must be returned to the state by 6 p.m. Nov. 7.

"The trickiest part is getting the ballots out there, and then having people realize you can't wait until Nov. 6 to do this," she said.

Eligible voters can contact Barnett at 846-1800 for more information or to request a ballot.

Barnett said district officials have been proactive in reaching business owners about the ballot issue and hope for a healthy response to their efforts.

"The point of the (district) is to raise money to spend it in the Business Improvement District," she said. "It's the property owners taxing themselves for advocacy."

If approved, the mill levy would continue to fund ongoing efforts to "maintain a viable downtown," she said.

"Every year we have a new operating plan, which can stay the same, but it could include things like beautification, working on clean and safe issues like shoveling the sidewalks more, putting business ambassadors downtown," she said. "There's a lot of things that can happen with a business improvement district."

The Routt County Board of Commissioners previously have agreed to make a $14,375 contribution to the business improvement district's budget because the county would not be subject to the mill levy if it passes.

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