Steamboat's stormwater task force will not recommend that the city adopt a new fee to pay for stormwater system upgrades.  The task force's report will be presented Tuesday night to the Steamboat Springs City Council.

Photo by John F. Russell

Steamboat's stormwater task force will not recommend that the city adopt a new fee to pay for stormwater system upgrades. The task force's report will be presented Tuesday night to the Steamboat Springs City Council.

Steamboat's stormwater task force concludes new fee not needed to pay for system upgrades

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Past Event

Steamboat Springs City Council meeting

  • Tuesday, October 15, 2013, 5 p.m.
  • Centennial Hall, 124 10th St., Steamboat Springs
  • All ages / Free

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— While more and more cities in Colorado are using fees to pay for their growing stormwater needs, Steamboat Springs is poised to go in a different direction.

A task force created this year to study the stormwater needs in Steamboat has concluded a new fee or utility shouldn't be created at this time to help cover the cost of maintenance and upgrades.

Instead, the task force is recommending that for the time being, the city's stormwater upgrades can be covered out of its own budget by hiring more personnel and dedicating more equipment and materials to maintain the infrastructure.

The city already is moving on some aspects of the lengthy report that will be presented Tuesday night to the Steamboat City Council.

The city's 2014 budget makes room for an additional engineer who will split his or her time between stormwater and water rights, as well as two additional streets employees to fill a three-person crew that will focus on stormwater needs in the summer months.

“In essence, the task force found the city should do more to proactively manage the system, but there is no ground shift in how we approach the issue,” City Engineer Ben Beall said.

City management last year was weighing a new fee or a property tax increase as a way to pay for millions of dollars worth of upgrades to the city's aging system.

The demand for the millions of dollars worth of stormwater improvements in Steamboat was the result of the city never having a comprehensive plan to keep up and expand its current system, City Manager Deb Hinsvark said as the task force was being created in January.

Last year, the city tapped Short Elliott Hendrickson, a firm of engineers, architects, planners and scientists based in St. Paul, Minn., to perform a $180,000 infrastructure study of Steamboat's bridges, culverts and dams.

The firm recommended that the city invest at least $17 million in new capital projects to upgrade its stormwater system and help manage future flooding.

The consultant also found Steamboat's stormwater infrastructure included “aging drainage infrastructure, much of which is in need of replacement immediately or within 5 to 10 years.”

The task force of 13 community members and five representatives from the city staff was created to help the city plan for the future.

Since February, they usually met once every two weeks and became experts in the city's stormwater master plan.

“They deserve tremendous kudos for all the time they put into it,” Beall said about the task force, adding the discussion was robust and technical at times.

The stormwater report is one of the highlights of Tuesday's city council meeting, which starts at 5 p.m. in Centennial Hall.

The city also will discuss the financial impact employee turnover rates have had in recent years.

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210, email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ScottFranz10

Comments

Scott Wedel 11 months, 2 weeks ago

The staff report on turnover is somewhat interesting and shows that some years some departments have huge turnover and some years have almost none. It appears that being promoted can count as turnover. Overall, seems to me that with turnover staying about the same through the depths of the recession as now is an argument that it isn't about pay. If it was all about pay then turnover in 2010 when city job was far better than local private sector would be far lower than now. It certainly does not show an urgent need for pay raises now.

Does the city have any data from employee exit interviews determining why they were leaving and what was their next job? Things like turnover due to retirement is not going to be reduced by modest pay increases.

Another issue on the agenda relates to Wildhorse Meadows and this is how insanely picky is our planning commission. A planter box is not merely a good idea for the developer to consider and add if it works, Nope, it becomes a condition of approval.

"A commissioner suggested the addition of planter boxes along the stairway between buildings as to soften its appearance. The applicant responded by stating they could do that. This was added as a condition of approval."

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John Fielding 11 months, 2 weeks ago

The recommendation by the stormwater task force is worthy of great respect. This is not a condition so serious as to present a danger to the community of great losses. It certainly can be addressed gradually, mostly by getting our deferred maintenance backlog reduced. That is the proper use of our excess reserve funds.

Scott's comment about the conditions of approval from the planning commission is right on. It really should be up to the developer to make the design as attractive as needs be to suit the demands of the tenants. The commission can offer all the suggestions they like, but must not make them requirements for approval. If the design is lacking, the denial of approval will come in a much more devastating form, that of no customers. Then the developer will make whatever improvements are necessary to attract them.

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