Our View: Time to act on lodging tax question
June 29, 2013
The time to act on the future of Steamboat's 1 percent of lodging tax dedicated to enhancing tourism is at hand. It's time to move on and move forward.
The Steamboat Springs City Council meets Tuesday night to look primarily at two finalists for the annual revenues of more than $600,000 generated by visitors to Steamboat who stay in guest accommodations. One is a proposal to build pedestrian and parks improvements on Yampa Street and another would build multi-use trails. Both have merit.
Council is scheduled to hear presentations Tuesday on the prospects for using the tax revenues to back bond issues that might be used to fund the capital projects. Council also is expected hear about scenarios that might evolve if council chooses to split the money between two or more projects.
We editorialized in April 2012 in favor of devoting all of the lodging tax revenues to a single cause in order to achieve the maximum favorable benefit for enhancing tourism in Steamboat Springs. We also editorialized this year in favor of accepting the advisory committee's recommendation of devoting 90 percent of the funds to the trails proposal. And we continue to adhere to those positions.
However, we also think the residents of Steamboat Springs, as well as all of Routt County and our guests, can't lose when it comes to the lodging tax. Either proposal would yield benefits.
This community has a lengthy track record of using lodging tax funds to build an exceptional municipal golf course, a singular tennis facility and to create the original home for a music festival that has grown beyond anyone's expectations. So we have confidence in the process.
What we are most intent on this week, after more than a year of debate and sustained efforts by well-intentioned community groups, is the need to make a firm decision, set a course and begin the next phase of this process.
We don't think City Council needs to kick the question back to its advisory committee for further study. It's turned in its recommendation. Now it's time to accept or reject that recommendation, thank the committee members for their selfless work and release them from their charge.
As well, the other community organizations that hold out hope of carving out a slice of the lodging tax pie should be allowed to reach closure, one way or the other. They need to move on with their goals with or without the help of the lodging tax.
It could be as simple as the two council members who have stated their full support for the 90 percent trails proposal putting a motion and a second on the table. There will be only six members of the seven-member council voting Tuesday after Sonja Macys stepped down.
If the motion passes, or if it fails, we all can cut to the chase. However, a 3-3 vote could make for an interesting Tuesday night.
Whatever the case, let's get on with it.