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"Eight out of 10 Coloradans use our trails." Reference 80% of this states residents use trails. In my opinion these are important questions when it comes to considering the Accommodations Tax $$.
1. Who travels to use trails?
2. How can Steamboat Springs best take advantage of the money available to attract those travelers?
There are different questions that need to be raised to the City Council and City Staff regarding the use of sales tax dollars and the strong desire for Open Space and Trails in this community.
I have enough faith in the 2A Trails Committee (2A TC), that I saw no reason for the people involved with submitting the proposal (me included) to be on the 2A TC. The meetings are open to the public and I (or anyone else) can attend if they feel there needs to be more oversight. If I think they are going in the wrong direction, I can spend my own personal time to research and compile a fact based argument why they should reconsider. I do not need a vote to influence the 2A TC, just a logical fact based argument. The Steamboat Trails Alliance did that over and over during the long drawn out Accommodations Tax (ATC) process and it was well received by the ATC. I am confident that if you attend a 2A TC meeting that you will see good discussions on why they are making the decisions that they are making. If the 2A TC was made up of those who submitted the ideas that were expanded into the final proposals or the land managers, then there would be a much higher chance of someone having an agenda and it not being one that is aligned with the community as a whole. The trails project has the chance to be a great community project, especially if the City Council works with the 2A TC on projects that have some visitor benefits but are clearly focused more on locals. Those projects are unlikely to be funded 100% by the 2A TC.
If you mean hidden agenda's when you say "business as usual", I have not seen that with the initial Accommodations Tax Committee (ATC) that picked from the almost 40 initial ideas that were submitted or the the newly formed 2A Trails Committee (2A TC). The ATC worked really hard to weight the information they were given and come up with recommendation to Council. The problem comes in when the Council takes hundreds of hours of discussion & fact finding from the committee's they appoint and thinks they they can come up with a better solution in 30 minutes or less of discussion. City Council didn't like the recommendation from the ATC so they essentially asked them to change their decision. When the ATC looked at it again and came up with the same conclusion, Council decided to change it themselves. If there is anything about the process so far that is "business as usual" it was Council changing the recommendation of the ATC. Lets hope the current City Council focuses on the many other issues facing the city and lets the Committee focus on what they were asked to do.
Pat is right. There is a lot of misinformation out there. It is not being funded with sales tax dollars. Unless you are staying in short term lodging in Steamboat, you are not paying for any of the proposed projects.
Any idea the percentage of fences not cunstructed on or VERY near a property line? The first thing that should come to mind when you see a fence is potential property line. An opening, hole, gate or missing wire does not give you the okay to go right in. You don't know, you don't go. You have got to be kidding me. Anyone who respects private property rights should be all over this one.
The past council felt it was necessary for the Accommodations Tax funding question to be taken to the voters even though it could have been allocated on an annual basis by the city council. As Ross mentioned, I too hope the much larger expense of a new police station that is being discussed is also taken to the voters and not just funded out of reserves.
Some of the proposed new sidewalks and trails that are in the City's Sidewalk Master Plan were included in the Steamboat Springs Trails Alliance's Trails Proposal that was approved by voters. However, the vast majority of the $16,100,000 worth of primarily sidewalks were not included in the Trails Proposal because they did not fit the original Accommodations Tax Ballot language. Obviously to complete a decent percentage of these projects is going to require taking advantage of multiple funding sources. I hope the city realizes that completing these connections is important to this community. They showed that at the ballot last November.
This is from the City Sidewalk Master Plan done in 2006...
It is much more likely that the recommendation of the 2A Trails Committee is closer to the original Trails Proposal than this poll currently shows. There are studies that show what has the highest potential to attract more tourists. If this poll was worded "What do locals want?" the results would resemble this poll and past community surveys. It is unfortunate that the majority of this council and some of the city staff chooses to ignore what this community wants. A quick review of the City's 6 year Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) budget shows that the city has no intentions to fund items like the Core Trail or other sidewalks & connections in the next 6 years. The 2A funds cannot be expected to pick up the whole cost of those improvements if it is going to be successful in attracting tourists. The 2A funds will not be picking up the whole cost of the backcountry trails either even if they have the best chance of attracting tourists . It takes multiple funding sources to get a project like this done. The 2A funds only cover about 25% of the estimated costs.
We are aware of the bid requirements and welcome competitive bids in this process. Whatever stretches the 2A money the furthest while still producing the desired finished product. If a private company is more efficient than RCR, that will be known shortly and the contracts will go to them as long as they stay more competitive!
I have gone through many of the past projects that RCR has been involved with in the area. I have no doubt that RCR can stretch the 2A money more than for profit businesses for many reasons. Rarely (if ever) will you have people volunteer for a for profit business. Non-profits are able to avoid some employment taxes. Much of the overhead cost can be done by volunteers. And, RCR is not going to be looking to make a profit. If a build comes under budget, that money will go back into future projects or maintenance. RCR has a long history working with the land managers both in construction and maintenance.
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