Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Steamboat Springs Steamboat 700 developers agreed Tuesday to raise an additional $50,000 a year in property taxes, avoiding what appeared to be a Steamboat Springs City Council headed for deadlock.
The concession came at the end of a hearing to discuss a model developed to forecast the development's fiscal impact on the city's operating budget at different stages and up to the point when the proposed development is complete. Steamboat 700 is a proposed master-planned community of about 2,000 homes on about 500 acres. It is west of Steamboat and seeking annexation into city limits.
The fiscal impact model predicted that the development would cost the city about $53,000 a year once fully built out. The debate at Tuesday's meeting split the council in two - those who thought the cost was unacceptable and that a new revenue source should be generated, and those who felt the small deficit was outweighed by the benefits of the development, especially affordable housing.
"This allows our children's children a chance to actually live here," resident Curtis Church said during public comment. "Every time this development is asked to do something financially, attainable housing becomes less and less likely."
Some council members agreed, but others said it was irresponsible to accept the fiscal impact model as it was presented Tuesday.
"I just don't want to risk the $53,000 in perpetuity on the back of the people who already live here," Councilwoman Meg Bentley said.
Bob Weiss, an attorney representing Steamboat 700, cut the debate short with an offer to voluntarily levy an additional property tax in the future Steamboat 700 metro district that would raise $50,000 a year at build-out. Council members unanimously approved the proposal.
Council did not require a plan to raise additional funds in earlier years of the development, when the fiscal impact model predicts it may cost the city's operating budget as much as $200,000 in some years. The fiscal impact model has a margin of error of about $50,000 to $60,000, interim Finance Director Bob Litzau said.
With Tuesday's action, City Council now can take the fiscal impact model off its plate and turn its attention to other components of the annexation. The city and Steamboat 700 still need to finish a similar fiscal impact model for capital costs, and at a meeting later this month, council members will get their first look at a draft of the annexation agreement that would govern the development. Council has scheduled a vote on a final draft of the agreement in the fall.