Steamboat City Council to discuss downtown urban renewal funding plan |

Steamboat City Council to discuss downtown urban renewal funding plan

— The Steamboat Springs City Council is poised to spend much of Tuesday evening talking about how to improve the downtown corridor.

The two big agenda items facing council are an update on an ongoing downtown parking study and a presentation from city staff about the possible use of tax increment financing to fund downtown improvements under an urban renewal authority.

Both items have the potential to greatly change the look and feel of downtown in the coming years.

The use of a TIF would funnel future growth in sales and property tax revenue from new development in the downtown area toward public improvement projects.

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But unlike how it has been used at the base of Steamboat Ski Area, most of the potential of a TIF in the downtown corridor lies in the growth of sales tax from new businesses, not in property tax gains.

City staff will look to the council Tuesday to gauge how much future sales tax growth from new development it would be comfortable dedicating to the improvement projects.

A consultant working for the city has estimated that if 50 percent, or 2 cents on every new dollar was used, $9 million in incremental sales tax revenue would go toward improvements in the downtown area during a 25-year period.

A lower funding dedication of 37.5 percent, or 1.5 cents on every new dollar, would generate an estimated $6.7 million in incremental sales tax for improvements during 25 years.

City staff will give a detailed presentation on the tax projections Tuesday night.

The purpose of diverting the sales tax growth from new development would be to help fund a wide range of public improvements.

A preliminary list from city staff includes such things as streetscape and lighting improvements on Yampa and Oak streets, improving sidewalk connectivity throughout downtown, traffic-calming improvements on Yampa Street and public restrooms.

Included in the URA presentation is a list of Yampa Street improvements that total $7.8 million and $400,155 of Oak Street sidewalk connections.

“What we need to do is finalize a list of projects, prioritize them and sharpen our pencils,” Planning Director Tyler Gibbs said.

He said the council could choose to form an advisory committee that would help prioritize projects. It would be similar to the one formed at the base of Steamboat Ski Area.

If council is supportive of using a TIF downtown, a series of ordinances would need to be adopted.

Following the tax discussion, the council will get an update on an ongoing study about downtown parking.

Parking consultant Scot Martin and Public Works Director Chuck Anderson last week hosted a public forum to discuss the study’s findings and to field suggestions from the community.

Community members offered up a wide variety of ideas ranging from construction of a parking structure in the future to some sort of a mass transit service looping through downtown.

Martin suggested the recommendations he makes to council would be aimed at better utilization of existing parking.

Things he is considering include making some parking spaces smaller to accommodate more spaces and license plate-reading technology to aid in parking enforcement.

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

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