Steamboat City Council to hear lodging tax group plan |

Steamboat City Council to hear lodging tax group plan

— The Steamboat Springs City Council is expected to hear a plan Tuesday night that would lead to a proposal on how to spend about $650,000 annually in tax revenues dedicated to tourism amenities.

The money, which is generated by the city's 1 percent lodging, or accommodations, tax, frees up in 2014 after the last debt payment is made on the bonds that backed construction of Haymaker Golf Course.

The city planned for $527,000 in revenues from the accommodations tax in its 2011 budget and wound up collecting $654,359. That was up from $607,920 collected in 2010.

On Tuesday night, council members will hear a proposal from the Steamboat Springs Lodging Association on the structure of a committee and a timetable for making the final recommendation on a new purpose for revenues from the accommodations tax. The schedule entails interested community groups submitting formal proposals this summer for projects or initiatives.

Deputy City Manager Deb Hinsvark said Monday that City Council is determined to look into the future and plan thoughtfully on how to spend the funds, possibly on more than one project.

"Council is unwilling to make a decision until it has a strategic plan in place," she said. "We can see about how much money the tax brings in, and that allows us to look out 10 years in our planning."

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Lodging Association Chairman Larry Mashaw told the City Council in a letter this month that his group met with Hinsvark and City Manager Jon Roberts before recommending that the city create a five-member committee to refine the list of possible uses for the tax after 2013. They propose a committee comprising three members of the Lodging Association and two City Council appointees.

Hinsvark said the creation of the committee was being discussed at the council level a year ago but moved to the background. Now, the Lodging Association is proposing to publish a request for proposals from the community in June, review them and select finalists in August and September, then listen to proposals from finalists in September and October before making a recommendation to City Council in December.

"All committee members will agree to be objective in considering all proposals and agree to administrate an open and public process," Mashaw wrote in a his letter to City Council.

Hinsvark said City Council might amend the timetable proposed by the Lodging Association, and she added there definitely will be public hearings during the process.

Why the hurry for a revenue stream that won't free up until 2014?

"The proposed timeline will allow us to have all items vetted in time for the 2014 budget process," Hinsvark wrote last week in a memo to council.

Another reason to move forward is to allow time for a public vote — most likely in November 2013 — in case the final spending plan calls for issuing bonded indebtedness to build a capital project back by the accommodation tax revenues.

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205 or email

At a glance

■ On Nov. 4, 1986, Steamboat Springs residents approved an accommodations tax devoted to tourism-related amenities. The tax won 71 percent of the vote. Throughout the years, the tax has provided funding for a Strings Music Festival tent, the Tennis Center at Steamboat Springs and Haymaker Golf Course. The Haymaker use expires in 2013, leaving future use of the revenues open for debate.

■ The 1986 ballot question asked:

“Shall the City Council of Steamboat Springs, in order to provide revenues to fund development of improvements and amenities in Steamboat Springs which will promote tourism and enhance the vitality of Steamboat Springs as a premiere (sic) destination resort, and enhance the community identity, environmental desirability and economic health of Steamboat Springs, enact an ordinance levying a lodging tax of 1 percent on public accommodations of less than 30 days?”

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