Sharon Paulus: Maintain projects
October 27, 2013
In your opinion piece, appearing in the Oct. 21 edition, you stated "The decision in front of voters in Referendum 2A is to allocate the accommodations tax revenue for 10 years to fund two projects instrumental in the tourism economy and the enhancement of our community for all who recreate and live in Steamboat and the Yampa Valley."
I believe the decision to be different: Do voters really want to commit 10 years of tax revenue to two new projects when the city has a difficult time maintaining existing facilities?
Don't get me wrong. I think these two projects are wonderful and surely would enhance our community as well as grow tourism. The Steamboat Springs Trail Alliance master plan will expand our trail system, which will benefit many in our community. Yampa River Park will help to revitalize and attract tourists to a beautiful, but often overlooked, area of town. Both are good solid ideas to benefit locals, tourists and our economy.
But is there a plan to maintain these projects? Is there a budget for the routine maintenance that will be needed to ensure their existence for the next 20 years and beyond?
In the past, it seems these questions have been ignored. For example, take the Steamboat Springs City Council's refusal to maintain the Tennis Center facility. Year after year, the council chooses to remove funding for what should be considered general maintenance of their facility. Apparently, they see this as a way to cut spending. The only thing accomplished by deferring maintenance is ensuring that the costs for repairs will be greater.
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Another thing overlooked in your commentary is that any excess funds will be allocated to the marketing of the new amenities and capital improvements to the Haymaker Golf Course. Did Haymaker draw the lucky straw? Why were they singled out over all of the other facilities?
My proposal: vote no on Referendum 2A.
The City Council can appropriate funds to both the Steamboat Springs Trail Alliance and the Yampa River Park. They then could use a portion of the money to upgrade/repair ALL existing amenities (the Tennis Center at Steamboat Springs, Howelsen Hill, Howelsen Ice Arena, Haymaker Golf Course, etc.). And, most importantly, design a plan for the routine maintenance for each facility/amenity.
Planning and budgeting for the true costs of amenities, now and in the future, is the responsible way to manage.