Editorial Board, May and June 2013
- Scott Stanford, general manager
- Tom Ross, reporter
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Lodging tax recommendation
Council erred in its handling of volunteer committee’s decision on how to spend tax revenues.
If the Steamboat Springs City Council didn’t like the recommendation of a volunteer committee that spent more than a year vetting proposals for accommodations tax funding, then it should have had the courage to just say so. Instead, the council had the audacity to ask the committee to meet again and come back with the recommendation some council members wanted to hear in the first place, not the one they got.
Perhaps the result shouldn’t be a surprise considering the intense lobbying that took place in the 11th hour of this lengthy process. With so much tax revenue on the line, groups that felt spurned by their proposal not getting the final nod were bound to make a last-ditch effort to sway the council. It appears to have worked.
And while we’ve made clear our belief that the Steamboat Springs Trails Alliance proposal offers the best chance of building Steamboat’s tourism base while simultaneously improving the quality of life for residents, we don’t doubt that proposals such as the Yampa River promenade would positively impact the community. But that’s not the point.
Our beef is with the council’s decision Tuesday to send the issue back to the lodging tax committee. The council certainly has the right to reject the committee’s recommendation and move forward with a plan of its own. And that’s what should have resulted from last week’s council meeting. Instead, the council asked the committee to meet again and essentially return with a recommendation that the lodging tax revenues be split between the Trails Alliance and Yampa River promenade proposals.
We can only imagine the frustration felt by some of the committee volunteers tasked with carefully analyzing and selecting the best proposal from among the three dozen or so that were initially submitted. After more than a year of meetings, they were told their recommendation isn’t what the council wants. And instead of leaving it at that, the council had the nerve to ask the committee to reconvene with a predetermined outcome.
What a waste of time. Many in our community long have complained about the amount of time and energy invested by citizen committees, only to have their work disregarded or dismantled by the elected officials who empowered them in the first place. After last week’s silliness in Centennial Hall, who would blame community members for shying away from future committee assignments?