Our View: BID tax is right move


Editorial Board, Sept. 25, 2011, to January 2012

  • Scott Stanford, general manager
  • Brent Boyer, editor
  • Tom Ross, reporter

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

Kudos to Mainstreet Steamboat Springs leaders for their push of a business improvement district tax for downtown’s commercial corridor. We hope property owners and businesspeople in the narrowly defined district recognize the value those revenues would have on the continued improvement of the downtown experience for residents and guests.

Passing a new tax is never easy, and particularly so in this economic climate. But that shouldn’t stop advocates of the proposal from campaigning their fellow downtown property owners and business owners to support a dedicated revenue source for Mainstreet Steamboat and all that it does to support the downtown shopping and entertainment district. Without a dedicated source of revenue, Mainstreet — and thus downtown businesses — risk losing much of what’s been accomplished in recent years.

That list is substantial. From the popular summer Farmers Market to the Chuckwagon Chili Challenge, Mainstreet Steamboat has created and organized numerous ongoing events that bring focus, foot traffic and revenue to downtown. More intangible is how the nonprofit group and its leader, Tracy Barnett, have lobbied much of the downtown business community and challenged it to be better through various initiatives. Mainstreet also is the group that works with the city and the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association on behalf of the downtown business community.

Mainstreet’s $140,000 operating budget for 2012 includes a $40,000 contribution from the city of Steamboat Springs. Mainstreet leaders are rightfully concerned that the city’s contribution will continue to dwindle in future years. Securing a more permanent revenue source is necessary for Mainstreet’s continued existence.

The business improvement district already is in place. Its boundaries are from Third to 13th streets and from Yampa to Oak streets. The district includes commercial, residential and mixed-use spaces, and the owners of each get to vote on business improvement district issues. Business owners also get a vote, even if they don’t own the space in which their business operates.

The tax initiative being considered by Mainstreet Steamboat would be levied only on commercial property owners. However, the way most commercial leases are written means that any tax increase almost certainly would be passed on to the commercial tenants. A 1-mill tax would generate about $53,000 each year for the business improvement district. The cost to commercial property owners would be $29 for every $100,000 of actual property value. Revenues from the tax would be dispersed by a board of property owners who live within the district. In addition to potentially funding Mainstreet Steamboat’s operations, the tax revenues also could be used to market and promote downtown Steamboat, as well as for other downtown-specific purposes.

A previous business improvement district tax measure failed by just six votes in 2008. We support the current efforts of downtown property owners and business owners who are considering a tax on themselves for the betterment of downtown Steamboat.


Scott Wedel 5 years, 2 months ago

So anyone ever calculate how high property and sales tax would be if voters approved every tax supported by the Pilot?


addlip2U 5 years, 2 months ago

So remind me again, please....by adding this tax, just who is to benefit?


sedgemo 5 years, 2 months ago

Maybe this will fill the increasing number of empty business spaces in town??? (sarcasm intended),

If you assume a building worth $500k, this tax amounts to $14,508 ANNUALLY. There goes a part-time employee and quite a few restaurant meals in town. Multiply by how many builidings?

Just sayin'.


sledneck 5 years, 2 months ago

There once was a city that taxed the planes, they taxed the snow, and they taxed the rain.

They taxed the rodeo and fair, they taxed the cutting of my hair.

They taxed the the people on the street, they taxed street where people meet, they taxed the food, they taxed the wine Till nothing was left that I could call mine...

They wordered where all the people went, they thought their tax was heaven-sent.


snowysteamboat 5 years, 2 months ago

Sedgemo needs to work on his math. He is off by 2 decimal places. The tax would be $145.08 on a 500K building.

Not advocating one way of another. Just the facts.


sedgemo 5 years, 2 months ago

Oops, sorry again. I just looked at it and realized my error. I wish this info was included in the articles so I don't have to guess at what the numbers are. I will keep quiet from here on out!


Scott Ford 5 years, 2 months ago

To put some realities to the BID discussion -

There are 129 commercial properties in the current BID boundary with a combined market value of $149.2 Million. This results in a taxable assessment value of about $40 million. Current mill levy within the BID is 42.071.

Using averages (which is a very blunt way of looking at this) a "typical" a commercial property owner in the BID boundaries is currently paying about $12,775 annually. The one mill increase means that they will be paying $13,080. Therefore, the one mill is essentially equal to the City's current support of $40,000. ($13,080-$12,775 =$305 x 129 properties=$39,345).

Current commercial property values in the BID range from $5 million to $20K, with the median value being just shy of $900K.

Before we get in the "weeds" discussing this tax, the better question to ask is, "Do we need an organization that essentially does what a traditional chamber of commerce has done?" With new leadership at the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association - why not ask this question?

I understand that there is likely a host of reasons why they should remain separate. I understand the history. Nevertheless, if ever there was a time - now is the time to give serious thought to folding both the Mountain Village Partnership and Main Street Steamboat under one umbrella organization. There has to be some economies as well as leveraging that could be accomplished that would benefit all involved. Main Street may not need this tax if that happened.

I would be curious to hear of some of the reasons why consolidation into the Chamber would be a silly idea. I know I likely do not understand all the pieces to this puzzel.

Great Poem Sledneck!


Scott Wedel 5 years, 2 months ago

It will be interesting to see if the historic rivalry between town and mountain business is important enough for each of them to pay for their own promotional organization. It is much easier to sustain that sort of rivalry when the City is paying the bills. But when the business and property owners are asked to finance the rivalry then typically money talks and the bs walks.


mtroach 5 years, 2 months ago

While you are lumping, add the $35k BTUSA gets to market cycling. Onepublic funded organization marketing Steamboat should be enough. If businesses and recreational groups want rheir own marketing, they should foot the bill without tax dollars.


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