Mainstreet requests resources

Budget application faces uphill battle as city looks at further cuts

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— Mainstreet Steamboat Springs President Towny Anderson made a compelling pitch to the Steamboat Springs City Council on Tuesday, but the city is likely to respond coolly to his request to make a substantial additional investment this year in the organization that promotes downtown.

En route to requesting the funds necessary to hire an extra staff person to assist Executive Director Tracy Barnett, Anderson noted that there is about 30,000 square feet of vacant commercial space downtown that, if rented, could generate hundreds of thousands of dollars in tax revenue for the city.

"We have unused infrastructure," Anderson said. "It's not contributing to the city. The biggest thing we can do is invest in that unoccupied space. : This immediate period is going to make or break a lot of merchants."

An investment in Mainstreet Steamboat Springs, Anderson argued, would help create an environment conducive to investment.

"Downtown is our brand," he said. "The first place we can generate new tax revenue is downtown. : What we need is help for Tracy. We're running at capacity."

The city has contributed $50,000 to Mainstreet Steamboat Springs this year. Anderson thanked the council for that contribution and also for its investment in streetscape improvements that are being coupled with the Colorado Department of Transportation's overhaul of Lincoln Avenue, which is scheduled to begin later this year. Anderson's request for additional funds was made during a regularly scheduled update from Mainstreet Steamboat Springs. There was little response from council members. President Loui Antonucci noted that council agreed earlier this year that out-of-budget requests for money would be evaluated first by the city's management team in relation to other budgetary desires before being considered by the council. With the massive budget cuts already made this year - including a furlough program that has seen employees' pay and hours cut 10 percent - the chances of an additional investment in Mainstreet Steamboat Springs receiving a higher priority from the management staff appear small.

Also, interim Finance Director Bob Litzau said Thursday that the city is looking to cut an additional 10 percent, or about $2 million, from its 2010 general fund budget; that's on top of a revised 2009 general fund budget that already has been cut about 13 percent from 2008.

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