A motorist makes his way over a patched section of Routt County Road 14 outside of Steamboat Springs on Monday afternoon. County officials are hosting an open meeting today regarding potential county road improvements.

Photo by Brian Ray

A motorist makes his way over a patched section of Routt County Road 14 outside of Steamboat Springs on Monday afternoon. County officials are hosting an open meeting today regarding potential county road improvements.

Officials hope residents can craft a winning road proposal

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Past Event

Work session with residents regarding potential county road maintenance and improvements

  • Tuesday, March 25, 2008, 4 p.m.
  • Routt County Courthouse, 522 Lincoln Ave., Steamboat Springs
  • All ages / Free

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— Almost five months after a proposed property tax increase failed by a 2-to-1 margin at the polls, a group of residents has asked Routt County officials not to give up on efforts to fund road improvements.

"We've been asked by a group of citizens to re-explore the potential for a road ballot issue again," Routt County Commissioner Doug Monger said. "We've been asked not to drop the issue of roads."

The Routt County Board of Commissioners will hold an open work session meeting today at 4 p.m. to discuss potential county road improvements and ideas for paying for them.

In November, Routt County voters overwhelmingly turned down a proposed property tax increase that would have raised $3.3 million or more a year for road improvements and other capital projects.

The bulk of the criticism for the proposal focused on its lack of a sunset provision - after a six-year plan to improve 60 miles of county roads, tax revenues would have continued to flow into county coffers. The proposal also asked that county government be exempt from the state's Taxpayers Bill of Rights, or TABOR, which places a limit on the growth of government revenues.

Planned projects for the increased revenue included widening the shoulders on Routt County Road 129, reconstructing parts of C.R. 14 south of Colorado Highway 131, and hard-surfacing a number of unpaved roads.

Commissioner Nancy Stahoviak said the latest push for such improvements came from a resolution passed at the Routt County Republican Central Committee's county assembly earlier this month. Interestingly enough, Stahoviak said the resolution was supported by some of the most vehement opponents of last year's ballot measure.

Commissioners hope a resident-driven process will bridge the gap between strong support for road improvements and strong opposition to a property tax increase at a time of rapidly escalating property values. But commissioners said any proposal for widespread road improvements would have to be accompanied by a new revenue stream.

"Bottom line, we need money," Stahoviak said. "I think it would be great if a group of citizens tackled it and came up with something they think the voters would accept."

Commissioners hope such a group might come together at tonight's meeting.

"We don't want to appoint a citizens committee," Stahoviak said. We want interested citizens to self-form."

Stahoviak noted that three county programs funded by property taxes - the Museum and Heritage Capacity Building Grant Fund, Horizons Specialized Services and the county's Purchase of Development Rights program - were created in a similar fashion.

"We don't want to tell them what to do," Commissioner Diane Mitsch Bush said. "We want them to tell us what to do."

Commissioners noted that today's meeting isn't just for those who support road improvements, but also for those who would oppose such a plan.

"The best way to make sure you get what you want is to be there during the process," Monger said.

Commissioners also encourage residents of Routt County municipalities to attend. The county is statutorily required to share any taxes it collects in a municipality, creating the opportunity for road improvements in the county's cities and towns as well.

- To reach Brandon Gee, call 871-4210

or e-mail bgee@steamboatpilot.com

Comments

colowoodsman 6 years, 9 months ago

This is a no-brainer, just make all the 'McMansions' with ag status and other tax breaks to pay their rightful share!

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mtroach 6 years, 9 months ago

Here's my soluition, Sunet the new tax, and earmark it for roads.

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bloggyblog 6 years, 9 months ago

so, the gist of it is... we want you to fix and maintain all the roads we use, but we don't want to have to pay or make any personel sacrifices. thats a classic! blog certainly doesn't envy our county commissioners. it would be hard to listen to someone who was an opponnent of the road tax complain about how the roads need improvements. here's blog's solution, if you don't want to pay for road maintainence, buy a horse(or a bicycle).

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techno_babble 6 years, 9 months ago

No, blog, I think the tax to fix the roads would have easily passed if they haden't included all the "de-brucing" and no sunset crap. Its not that we don't want to pay - its just that we want to know where and how the money is being spent.

woodsman - you are so right. Anyone can scan the county assessor web site see the disparity that some of these "ranches" enjoy in tax breaks. There are multi-million dollar parcels on the market that paid less than $100 in taxes last year.

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housepoor 6 years, 9 months ago

colowoodsmans is right, the ag exemption for properties such as storm mountain reserve and maribaou is nothing more than welfare for the wealthy.....but then again our own representive J.T. takes advantage of this also on his 13 ac "ranch" in Stawberry Park........????? my guess he avoids paying thousands in taxes by letting his nieghbors run a few cows for a week each summer

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another_local 6 years, 9 months ago

County tax revenues have doubled in recent years. The county has huge reserves. There is plenty of money. Roads are one of the primary responsibilities of the county. Cut other expenses and take care of the roads. NO MORE TAXES!

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BigOil 6 years, 9 months ago

The county paved miles & miles of perfectly good roads last summer with BS chip-seal.

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colowoodsman 6 years, 9 months ago

My work has taken me all over Routt Co. for the past 20 years. Some of the people I've met actually bragged to me about how much they were getting away with on taxes. I know the County puts a lot of money into reserves (investment in stocks and bonds) but given the way the tax base has increased recently their is no excuse for some of the roads and especially intersections we have to deal with. I understand that Nancy and Paul are real buddy-buddy. Probably needs some looking into.

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