Fund Board sales tax idea raises some eyebrows

City officials undecided about whether to share revenues with Hayden, South Routt districts


— City officials were undecided Friday about whether to share revenues from the city's half-cent sales tax for education with school districts in Hayden and South Routt.

Several members of the Steamboat Springs City Council said they did not yet have enough information on the idea, which earned unanimous support this week from members of the Education Fund Board. The Fund Board administers the half-cent sales tax, which local voters first approved in 1993 and has a budget of more than $4.4 million for the 2008-09 school year.

Fund Board members Wednesday supported not only a ballot issue in November that would ask voters to renew the sales tax but also working with the City Council to create flexibility in the use of sales tax revenues - in other words, allowing Hayden and South Routt school officials to make funding requests.

"I don't have any thoughts - this is the first I've heard of it," City Council President Loui Antonucci said Friday. "The only thing I can tell you is that I think flexibility is always good."

Antonucci said he likely would respect the Fund Board's recommendation to share some revenues with Hayden and South Routt.

"But I haven't heard the arguments on the other side, so I don't know what the issues are yet," he said. "My only worry would be that if we take it out of Steamboat, does that hurt Steamboat teachers?"

Dale Mellor, finance director for the Steamboat Springs School District, said Wednesday that Fund Board revenues provide salaries for more than 20 local teachers, in addition to much of the district's technology staff.

Council member Scott Myller said he understands the contributions Hayden and South Routt residents make to Steamboat Springs sales tax.

"I suppose the argument is we get plenty of money from those folks, and (sharing Fund Board dollars) would be a way to pay that back," he said. But "it doesn't seem like we're floating in the dough right now, either. I would give it serious consideration."

The City Council gifts the citywide tax revenues to the Fund Board. The Fund Board administers those revenues and in turn allocates them as gifts to the Steamboat Springs School District.

Fund Board members Tom Ptach and Mark Andersen, and Fund Board accountant Paul Strong, agreed Wednesday to approach City Council members with recommendations for a renewal ballot issue this year and sharing some revenues with Hayden and South Routt schools.

Questions about what form that sharing would take - such as the amount and whether it would be a fixed percentage or a request-by-request basis - have yet to be decided.

Fund Board members unanimously supported keeping the sales tax at a half-cent rate and proposing an extension of eight years, beginning Jan. 1, 2010. Steamboat voters renewed the sales tax in 1996 and 1999. The current tax will expire Dec. 31, 2009.

Council member Steve Ivancie said the sales tax should continue.

"I do support the renewal of the half-cent (sales tax). It's been good for the schools and I'd like to see it renewed," he said. "As far as the sharing, I'll certainly listen to what the Fund Board says, but I'd need some time to mull that one over."

- To reach Mike Lawrence, call 871-4233

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homegrown 9 years ago

What is there to mull over or even think about. Basically what happens is that you collect monies in the form of taxes from people who live in Hayden or South Routt, who are required to send their kids to the local schools, not Steamboat. Then you only give the monies to the richer school district. A while ago this might not have made much of a difference, but due to the increase in the housing market in Steamboat, people are unable to live there and thus they must commute. All these folks get their groceries, liquor, cars etc. in town, but their kids don't see any of the benefits of this tax. Seems like taxation without representation.


MtnWarlock 9 years ago

Here's a thought. Maybe the west and south Routt schools should have their towns tax like Steamboat! Instead of a 1/2 cent tax, maybe a 3 percent tax. Maybe those towns could initiate a tourist tax on all their lodging and services, to fund their education issues! In my opinion, it's like someone asking for a free meal and then neglecting to help with the dishes afterwards because, the host can afford it!


MtnWarlock 9 years ago

homegrown, There are a lot of people who do not shop Steamboat because of prices. Tax included! They travel to Craig, Denver, Grand Jct., etc.. The tourist is the one who pays more of the tax! Maybe the tourist could have the same arguement of taxation without representation! That's why I said that Hayden and Oak Creek need to market for tourism and tax accordingly!


TrunkMonkey 9 years ago

There is a big difference between a home rule city and a statutory town. I don't know about Hayden but Oak Creek statutorily cannot raise its sales tax anymore. The town is limited to the 3% it now collects. The people of South Routt have nearly taxed themselves to death with approvals for the schools. 47% of my property tax goes to the schools now. I spend a considerable sum of money in SS each month as do a large number of South Routt residents and I don't believe it will break the bank in SS if some of that money comes back to South Routt.


another_local 9 years ago

I think that all funds given to other districts, if any are given at all, should be in the form of matching grants and limited to some approximations of sales tax contributions by residents of those areas. When you do the math, there really is not very much sales tax revenue coming to Steamboat from Hayden and S Routt.

If all 5000 people in those areas spent $1000 per year, per person in Steamboat that might be a good working number. 5000 people X $1000 X .005 amounts to a grand total of $25,000 paid into the education fund. I hope that our city and fund board keep a sense of realism when when discuss these funds. We already provide more value than that to neighboring districts through shared staff and other programs where Steamboat picks up the tab.

One of the important reasons some people choose to live in Steamboat and not elsewhere is the good school district, that decision comes with higher taxes and higher cost of living.


MtnWarlock 9 years ago

another_local, Just want to elaborate a little on what you said. We can't forget the people who live and work in the district, that have to live amongst the congestion of the tourists and pay the high cost of rent and realty, with no place to escape from the hustle and bustle ten months out of the year! That's why I stated in my earlier blog; In my opinion, it's like someone: (other school districts) asking for a free meal and then neglecting to help with the dishes: (tax matches) afterwards because, the host: (Steamboat) can afford it! Every one who lives in Steamboat pays dearly. Maybe if all the residents of the other districts saved their sales receipts showing taxes paid in Steamboat and pooled them together, we could figure out a way to disburse funds from the 1/2 cent based on those figures! Just being facetious. It is a true fact that the RE-2 district does help out the other districts a little. I guess it's not enough though.


bloggyblog 9 years ago

blog would be curious to find out how much of the sales tax budget for 08-09 (4.4 MILLION) is actually generated by steamboat locals. blog would wager its only a small percentage, with most of the money coming from tourist spending. if thats the case , then neighboring communities that provide allott of workers and beds for workers, deserve a cut. p.s. you can commence to label me a socialist now.


autumnwitch 9 years ago

I agree with mtnwarlock...where does it end? Lots of people from Texas and Florida spend more money here than some residents do...shall we give money to their districts as well? I vote for the tax because I live here and I want the money to go to our kids. Charity begins at home, sorry if that seems selfish, but it is the reason some of us vote for it in the first place.


JLM 9 years ago

A sales tax is a geographically constrained tax on consumption. It is not a residential tax. School districts are organized to serve residential areas. There is no good argument that the residents of Hayden, etc. are entitled to any of SBS sales taxes which are paid in great measure by tourists. Thank goodness that the tourists are funding the SBS schools. Taxes are not charitable contributions. Again, thank goodness for the funding mechanism that is provided by tourists. If you have kids in SBS schools, thank a tourist.


wz4now 8 years, 12 months ago

I am appalled by the narrow minded selfish attitudes I read above. If it were not for the work force supplied by residents of the "bedroom communities" the sales tax collected (for Steamboat and Steamboat Schools) would be a fraction of what it is. Try operating any business or service in Steamboat without them.
SoRoCo finally got the funds to replace an antiquated coal heating system, Hayden was able to replace badly worn carpet, and Steamboat..... well we have an artificial turf field, state of the art everything, building a new $500M playground, and now the real kicker, a $1.0 million dollar security system!! Get real Steamboat neighbors, not only will you have to soon stock the shelves and bag your own groceries, you may need to wait for the grocery delivery.
This Steamboat "I want it all and I want it now" Y generation attitude makes me sick.
The tourists may pay most of the tax, but those "out cast neighbors" are the ones at the cash register collecting it.


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