Steamboat lodging tax committee trims list of proposals

Documentary, Chamber's summer marketing request don't clear 1st hurdle

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— Do public restrooms attract visitors to Steamboat Springs?

That was one of the questions the city's newly-formed lodging tax committee grappled with during an hourlong meeting Wednesday afternoon.

The committee — which includes two Steamboat Springs City Council members, three members of the Steamboat Springs Lodging Association and one public volunteer — is charged with vetting the 38 ideas for how to spend revenue from the city's lodging tax.

By the end of its Wednesday meeting, the committee axed four proposals for the tax that they didn't think adhered to the ballot language that created the tax in 1986. Two more were eliminated because they were turned in late.

The eliminated proposals include a one-hour TV special about the history of Howelsen Hill and Steamboat Ski Area, summer marketing dollars for the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association, a $5,000 grant for Steamboat's Young Professionals Network, fencing around Steamboat's sulfur cave, increased funding to local nonprofits and a proposal to open more travel markets with Latin America.

The committee also discussed six more proposals, including the city's request for public restrooms and sidewalk improvements, that also could fall short of the ballot language.

However, the committee decided it could move on to the next phase of vetting.

The remaining applicants soon will be invited to submit a more thorough application deemed a "request for proposal." The city plans to send out the requests early next week.

The committee will recommend that some requests for similar items, such as three requests for a disc golf course and multiple requests for biking trails, be consolidated.

While the committee has not discussed the merits of each of the remaining proposals, it did decide Wednesday to make it clear in the new requests for proposals that it won't allow the tax to be spent on operations or maintenance costs. Instead, the committee agreed the tax must pay for a new amenity or a capital-improvement project.

The meeting attracted a small audience of applicants to the Crawford Room of Centennial Hall. Spectators included Mainstreet Steamboat Springs Manager Tracy Barnett, leaders of the Routt County Riders Trails Committee and the director of the Steamboat Springs Bike Town USA Initiative. Mainstreet is seeking funding for the revitalization of Yampa Street, and the biking groups are hoping to use the revenue to create new trails and ultimately make Steamboat more biker friendly.

Applicants for the tax, which will stop supporting Haymaker Golf Course in 2014, have until Oct. 15 to return their more detailed proposals to the city. The committee plans to narrow the list of proposals to six and have them presented to City Council in December or January. The group ultimately hopes to recommend a new use for the tax to council by the end of March 2013.

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210 or email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com

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