Hayden Town Manager Russ Martin speaks before the Routt County Commissioners on Tuesday afternoon in Steamboat Springs. Martin was seeking feedback from the group on the West Routt Recreation District Service plan. County attorney John Merrill reads through the document in the background.

Photo by John F. Russell

Hayden Town Manager Russ Martin speaks before the Routt County Commissioners on Tuesday afternoon in Steamboat Springs. Martin was seeking feedback from the group on the West Routt Recreation District Service plan. County attorney John Merrill reads through the document in the background.

Hayden clarifies rec district plan

Officials aim to have West Routt voters weigh in this fall

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Past Event

Public meeting of the organizing committee for Hayden's proposed West Routt Recreation District

  • Monday, April 28, 2008, 7 p.m.
  • Hayden Town Hall, Hayden, CO
  • All ages / Free

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— Hayden officials are developing details of their proposed West Routt Recreation District, which requires a property tax increase that could go before voters in the fall.

The recreation district would add a five-mill levy property tax in Hayden and surrounding parts of Routt County. If approved by voters, the district will raise about $400,000 a year to "finance, construct and manage park and recreation facilities" for the area, according to a draft of the service plan.

Its tax impact could be heavier for those outside of Hayden than town residents.

If the district is approved, the Town Board will cut Hayden's mill levy by five mills, the draft states, to effectively offset the increase for Hayden residents. In years when home valuations increase, however, Hayden residents still could see a tax increase because of state tax laws, Town Manager Russ Martin said.

People who live within the recreation district, but outside town boundaries, would see the full weight of the tax increase in all years.

Homeowners would pay the district about $40 for every $100,000 of their assessed home value, Martin said.

Martin addressed Routt County commissioners Tuesday along with Parks & Recreation Director Kathy Hockett and Hayden School District Superintendent Mike Luppes, who is the interim chairman of the recreation district's organizational committee. Martin said the intent of the meeting was to update the commissioners on their progress and seek suggestions.

Martin told commissioners he wanted to make sure the organizing committee was on the right track before asking the town to put up cash. Hayden would have to deposit up to $10,000 for the process of getting the issue on the November ballot.

But the commissioners were cool to Martin's request for input, stressing that they were not comfortable assessing the proposal before it was formally filed.

"Our role is very different," Commissioner Nancy Stahoviak said. "We have to make a formal decision and hold a public, advertised hearing. : For me to say you're on the right track would not be appropriate."

Commissioner Diane Mitsch Bush said the commission had to be mindful of its "quasi-judicial role" in the process. After hearings, the three-person panel will decide whether the proposal can go forward.

The commissioners also expressed skepticism about the timeline. They suggested the Hayden planners sit down with county staff to make sure they had enough time to get the issue on the ballot.

"It's a legitimate question that we knew we were going to be asking ourselves," Martin said in an interview, referring to timing concerns. "If we're out of time, we're out of time, but I don't think that's the case."

The whys and hows

Martin said he has been trying to put together a recreation district for four years and has been working on this proposal for four months.

A recreation district helps residents by removing the issue from a list of priorities the town funds, Martin said. For example, recreation funding sometimes can suffer during periods of economic strain, he said.

A recreation district "to a degree guarantees a certain level of service in recreation : making sure it has a priority of its own without having to compete for resources within the town," Martin said.

A five-person board would govern the West Routt Recreation District, according to the proposal draft. That board would decide how to spend district money, Martin said.

He stressed that the town could contract with the district for maintenance that goes beyond pure recreational purposes. Entities such as the Hayden Cemetery District also could contract with the district on maintenance work.

Taxpayer money would not fund those nonrecreational projects, Martin said. The proposal is unrelated to a regional sports complex that has been discussed, he said.

"I really, really, really don't want people to confuse this district with a sports complex," Martin said. A relationship between a complex and the recreational district would be contractual if anything, he said.

The district's service plan proposal is available at Town Hall.

- To reach Blythe Terrell, call 871-4234

or e-mail bterrell@steamboatpilot.com

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