Our View: Time for Hayden, South Routt to pony up


Editorial Board, June 2009 to September 2009

  • Suzanne Schlicht, general manager
  • Brent Boyer, editor
  • Mike Lawrence, city editor
  • Tom Ross, reporter
  • Grant Fenton, community representative
  • Paul Strong, community representative

Contact the editorial board at (970) 871-4221 or editor@steamboatpilot.com. Would you like to be a member of the board? Fill out a letter of interest now.

— Now that Hayden residents have wisely approved a home rule charter and taken the first steps toward adopting new taxes, it's time the town passes a half-cent sales tax for education similar to the one collected in Steamboat Springs.

For that matter, a recent change in state law now means Oak Creek and Yampa also can seek a half-cent sales tax without exceeding the previous 6.9 percent tax limit imposed on statutory municipalities. That cap was a prohibitive factor in whether Routt County's other incorporated towns previously could impose a tax to match Steamboat's.

Although half-cent sales taxes for education in Hayden, Oak Creek and Yampa wouldn't produce anywhere near the revenue collected by Steamboat's education tax, the move would be important for its symbolism.

Steamboat residents first approved the half-cent sales tax in 1993, and it since has been reapproved on three occasions, including an overwhelmingly affirmative vote in November 2008 that extends the tax through 2019. The 2008 vote was important in that Steamboat voters also approved the sharing of some of the tax revenues with our neighboring school districts in Hayden and South Routt.

The issue of sharing those revenues, which reached $3 million annually in recent years, has long been a contentious one. This newspaper's Editorial Board long has advocated for sharing, believing that it is in the best interest of our broader community to look out for the educational needs of all Routt County students. We've also repeatedly pointed out that residents in Hayden and South Routt are part of the work force that drives our resort economy and that they spend portions of their paychecks shopping and dining in Steamboat year-round.

The Education Fund Board, a volunteer group that administers Steamboat's half-cent sales tax revenues, recently approved a couple of sizable gifts for Hayden and South Routt. South Routt is receiving $90,000 next school year to pay for a curriculum director and various technology upgrades. Hayden will receive about $115,000 from the Fund Board for the 2009-10 school year, including money to purchase computer software licenses, increase Internet bandwidth, hire an intervention paraprofessional and overhaul the elementary school's fire alarm system.

That's a good first step. A better second step would be for the towns of Hayden, Oak Creek and Yampa to go to their voters with proposals to impose half-cent sales taxes of their own. Revenues from such taxes wouldn't be used in place of Steamboat's revenues but could instead supplement the pool of available money for all three districts. While the details could be worked out in time, there's no question that in the spirit of fairness, the choice facing Hayden, Oak Creek and Yampa is obvious.


Karen_Dixon 7 years, 8 months ago

Snowbow, The answer to your question can be found in the Vision 2030 study at the following website, assuming, of course, that the sampling is representative.

http://vision2030routt.org/ Click on the "polling summaries" link under the heading "Related Links" on the left side of the page. Within the "Keypad Polling Results" for each area of the county, you can scroll through the slides to find your answer, shown in percentages.


mavis 7 years, 8 months ago

NEWSFLASH SSSD has to provide services, speech, ot, psyc spec ed and so on to North Routt- they are a CHARTER SCHOOL in the SSSD district- that would be why the fund board sends money that way and that is how it works with charter schools


Scott Wedel 7 years, 8 months ago

I think people of West and South Routt generally expect that sales tax collected in Steamboat will be spent in Steamboat. But when the Educational Fund Board starting funding projects in North Routt then came the argument of why not also South or West Routt? The people of South and West Routt spend money in SB just like the people of North Routt so if the sales tax collected in Steamboat for educational projects is going to be spent outside of city limits then it should be spread evenly, not just to the north.

Sales tax increase for the towns of South Routt runs into the issue that commercial is already pretty weak and there is commercial available in Pburg that pays no town sales tax. So Yampa and Oak Creek increasing their town sales tax is likely to push what little commercial activity exists to Pburg or to Stagecoach.


Scott Wedel 7 years, 8 months ago

The educational fund sales tax is not taxed within the boundaries of the SSSD. The sales tax boundary is the city limits of Steamboat. When the sales tax was initially passed, all of the SSSD supported schools were in Steamboat and primarily had children that lived within city limits.

The citizens of North Routt have always received the benefits of the Educational Fund without paying any sales tax at their local stores.

The Educational Fund sales tax was never specified as being for the boundaries of the SSSD. The logic and fairness of allowing funding requests for outside of Steamboat Springs city limits was that people of the region spend money in Steamboat and children commonly switch between local school districts.

What would most equitable would be to create a taxing district of the boundaries of the local school districts and have the same additional sales tax every where. But with Steamboat collecting the vast majority of regional sales tax and having by far the wealthiest city government, it makes sense that Steamboat has the sales tax that is largely spent in Steamboat, but some is spread in neighboring school districts.


ybul 7 years, 8 months ago

Vehicle sales are taxed in city where the individual resides. This is not a huge amount, but could be minor justification for not sending a proportionate amount to south routt or hayden.

Why should North, South or West routt get proportionate benefits without paying in.


Scott Wedel 7 years, 8 months ago

The point of the Educational Fund is not to proportionally allocated money, but to do what is right for the educational needs of the kids.

North Routt got far more than it's fair share when the charter school received money, but that was a pretty onerous bus ride for those kids, especially the young ones.

And the people of North, South and West Routt do pay the sales tax because SB is the economic hub of the area and has the vast majority of the region's retail sales.

If Hayden were to attract a Home Depot or other big box retailer then Hayden should add that sales tax or be dropped from the Educational Fund.


flotilla 7 years, 7 months ago

LFTO is correct. People in South Routt can barely afford to dine out, let alone that there are now 6 restaurants to split our paychecks, which predominantly originate in SS. The Pilot editorial board never ceases to shock me with their "matter of fact" opinions. I would expect more from Paul, not knowing the rest of you. Brent, after your article about the House of Cards that greedy residents (cough, realtors) built , how about respecting those of us who didn't gamble and instead chose to remove ourselves from the "comforts" of Steamboat and bought something that we could actually afford. I seriously would have loved to be in this editorial board meeting. Just another jab to the poor, worthless South Routt folk that can't pull their own weight, right? "Steamboat people, look over here, while you can't pay your mortgages, the South Routt folks are STEALING your education board funds! Holy Cow! Release the hounds!" Oh, and also, people of South Routt pay EXTRA whenever we purchase anything there, so we can have the small luxuries of gas, toilet paper, fishing bait, beer and food. But we do, so that the vendors stay in business. But you probably wouldn't know that having never stepped foot in any of those establishments.


flotilla 7 years, 7 months ago

And lastly, "pony up". seriously? why don't you "pony up" and come on down to support your "affordable housing" so that it remains a nice place to live (don't tell anyone, we actually pay Scott Wedel to give us a bad name)


mavis 7 years, 7 months ago

flotilla- you crack me up and nice posts!! Great points!


upstream 7 years, 7 months ago

This middle routt centric attitude is exactly why I consider the chamber's "buy local" campaign a complete SHAM. Buying anything in Steamboat Springs is a waste of my hard earned dollars since you beautiful people can't see your way to make sure our kids get the same four-star educational experience yours do. As I've said before, if it can't be had in South Routt, I'll take my $ down to the I-70 corridor. As a resident of south Routt (clearly viewed as "lower routt" by many on the editorial board) I have been offended again and again by the Steamboat Enquirer and now read it only when bored beyond belief. Similarly, I am repeatedly offended by the snobs of middle routt. It will be a shame when all you have left are your yuppie 3rd home owners and real estate agent/ spin doctors trying to market your Cowboy Cliche (GAG me some more). Down here in South Routt we will still be raising our children in the great traditions of the rural/ agricultural west. Your ignorance of our reality is duely noted. Enjoy your all season track, brand new school buildings and state of the art computer centers-


sandmountain 7 years, 7 months ago

When the sales tax was initiated for schooling many of us thought it was to go to all three school districts, which was not the case. When it was voted on to renew the tax many of us voted no because Steamboat district got it all. The last time we voted, they said the other districts would be receiving part of it, but no specified percentage was ever stated. I wonder if West Routt and South Routt ever received any at all.


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