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 email@example.com. Would you like to be a member of the board? Fill out a letter of interest now.
Steamboat Springs 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.