I was re-reading my copy of "Don't Sweat the Small Stuff" by Richard Carlson, PhD, this week. It gave me some real insight into the recreation center issue that we will be voting on here in Steamboat in a few weeks. The chapter I was reading was titled "Think of What You Have Instead of What You Want." I started thinking of all we have here in Steamboat.
The city of Steamboat Springs already has Howelsen Hill Ski Area, an enclosed ice rink, the Haymaker Golf Coarse and clubhouse, a new beautiful tennis center, a soon-to-be-completed addition to Bud Werner Memorial Library, a soon-to-be-completed community center, beautiful school campuses with a new Soda Creek Elementary on the way and an award-winning bike and pedestrian trail system. We have supported tax increases for some of the above listed items. Further, we have agreed to increase our taxes to keep and attract qualified teachers. We could choose to use the school campuses to provide more activities for teens if it is funded.
Beyond what the city owns, we also have a new Justice Center and access to a world-class ski area. We already have Old Town Hot Springs, a nonprofit foundation-operated pool and exercise center with a new water slide and hot pools going in. We are nestled in beautiful Routt National Forest with all the exercise and recreation opportunities it has to offer.
After considering all we have, we should also consider what we can afford. If we pass the recreation center, our property taxes will go up - in my case and many others more than $350 a year. We will all pay this tax whether we choose to use the recreation center or not. If the recreation center is built and we choose to use it, we will also pay a user fee. Remember that our mill levy for schools have now been frozen, which means that as property values go up, the mill levy can no longer go down to compensate. Our taxes will continue to creep up. Property taxes also affect affordable housing, which is a major issue we face. I have watched property taxes get so high in some states that there are people on fixed incomes who are forced to sell their homes. For others, high property taxes put the monthly cost of owning a home further out of reach.
I respect those who have worked very hard on the recreation center inniative, and their point of view. When I look at what we already have, and consider wants versus needs, and my personal budget, I will be voting "No" on 2B and 2C.