Council sets up downtown dollars

Steamboat Springs Business Improvement District funding depends on approval from voters

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— City officials decided Tuesday how to spend money for downtown improvements - if downtown voters allow the money to be spent.

The Steamboat Springs City Council adopted a 2008 budget for the downtown Steamboat Springs Business Improvement District, allocating $155,000 for downtown advocacy, infrastructure upgrades and beautification projects. But that money will only be available if voters within district boundaries - from Second to 13th streets, between Yampa and Oak streets - approve a property tax increase in a special election that is separate from ballots in Steamboat Springs and across Routt County.

The tax's proposed 2.5-mill levy would generate about $120,000 a year to support downtown Steamboat businesses. Joined by a $25,000 payment in lieu of taxes from Routt County and other revenue, the district's total revenues would be $155,000 in 2008.

The budget authorized Tuesday would give $116,800 to Main Street Steamboat Springs, $14,000 to operating expenses, $9,000 to support the Steamboat Springs Art Museum and $10,000 to debt service. The remaining $5,200 would be designated for future operating and capital expenses.

The resolution approving the budget passed unanimously with no discussion.

Also Tuesday:

- City Council approved spending up to $2,000 to send Yampa Valley Housing Authority Interim Executive Director Curtis Church to a December conference in Portland, Ore. The conference's focus will be on transitioning manufactured home communities into neighborhoods owned by their residents. The housing authority, with financial backing from the city, recently purchased the Fish Creek Mobile Home Park.

- Councilman Ken Brenner presented concerns with some of the language included in 1041 regulations the Routt County Board of Commissioners adopted Monday. Brenner worried language in one section could leave the Yampa River legally vulnerable to a proposed project that would pump the river's waters to the Front Range. Council voted to have their water attorney look at the regulations and consider possible revisions.

- An update from Public Works Director Jim Weber on city sidewalk projects turned into a discussion about how the city allocates its resources. Based on complaints from residents in older neighborhoods where sidewalks are being proposed, some council members suggested sidewalk designs be tailored to particular neighborhoods to match individual streetscapes and avoid the removal of trees.

City Manager Alan Lanning criticized that suggestion based on its expense. Referencing the city's proposed 2008 budget, Lanning told council members they can't simultaneously spend lavishly on community programs and first-rate sidewalks.

"There has to be some limitation on standards," Lanning said. "Again, you're dealing with resources. : It's impossible to satisfy everybody. How many people have complained? Ten? We're talking about a community amenity that benefits 10,000 people."

Councilman Towny Anderson disagreed with Lanning.

"For us to be that formulaic goes beyond reason," Anderson said.

City Council's next meeting is Oct. 23. The meeting features a second and final reading of an ordinance that would adopt the city's 2008 budget, which includes more than $50 million in expenditures - and potentially $34 million more to fund a proposed recreation center at Ski Town Fields, on the ballot for Steamboat voters.

- To reach Brandon Gee, call 871-4210

or e-mail bgee@steamboatpilot.com

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