City officials project urban renewal authority funding will be scarce for future base area projects | SteamboatToday.com

City officials project urban renewal authority funding will be scarce for future base area projects

The beautification of medians on Mount Werner Circle

— City officials told the Steamboat Springs City Council on Tuesday night that funding for base area improvements from the urban renewal authority will be scarce for at least the next three to four years.

Finance Director Kim Weber said the tax incremental funding that has paid for the popular promenade and millions of dollars’ worth of other improvements in recent years is not likely to be strong enough to support any more major projects until significant development takes place or property values rebound.

The deflated financial outlook for the URA wasn’t well received by some council members.

Cari Hermacinski said the outlook was distressing because a financial outlook of the URA in 2010 projected it would be able to pay off its debt service and have reserve funding despite the prospect of no new development at the base area and declining property values.

City officials said the recent drops in assessed property values have been higher than what was anticipated three years ago.

Still, they predicted even with an upcoming projected double digit drop in property values, the URA should be able to meet or almost meet its debt service but not generate any additional revenue for improvement projects.

The financial outlook came on the same night the council approved the use of $100,000 in URA reserve funds to allow for the completion of more priority projects slated to start this summer at the base area.

The projects include $240,000 in landscaping at the base area and on Mount Werner Circle along with signage improvements in Ski Time Square, among other things.

The URA’s capital budget for the base area projects this year totals $582,355.

The extra $100,000 will come out of a reserve fund that totals $1.3 million.

Also on Tuesday night, the Steamboat Springs Redevelopment Authority took a step toward mending some recent tension with its Urban Renewal Authority Advisory Committee by endorsing the hiring of a new project manager for the upcoming construction projects.

Steve Frasier and other URAAC members told the council the position would help to improve some recent communication issues between the city and the volunteer group that has helped oversee base area projects since 2007.

Council members said it was important to support the base area projects.

"This is our economic engine," Hermacinski said about the base area. "Let’s not turn our backs on it. I want city staff to be all in on this project, and if we can’t because of cutbacks and furlough days, we need to find someone" to help manage the projects.

The council and URAAC spent some time discussing other issues, including some concern from the city about the additional maintenance and operation costs it has incurred because of the improvements.

"If we’ve got the city on one side saying it wants to keep operation and maintenance costs down and the base area (stakeholders) saying we want something that’s top of the line, it’s going to be a future point of contention until (the URA funding expires) in 16 years," council President Bart Kounovsky said.

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