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This issue has more to do with expanding options than anything. I do not speak for either the City or the County, but trust me when I tell you that neither the City of Steamboat Springs nor Routt County are interested in becoming Internet Service Providers, certainly not today or anytime soon. But SB152 prevents City and County government from participating in the business of bandwidth altogether. SB152 does not protect the interests of businesses or residents of Colorado, but it very distinctly protects the interests of large bandwidth providers like CenturyLink and Comcast. If you honestly believe that SB152 has encouraged providers like Comcast and CenturyLink to invest in communities like Steamboat, I would say that you are sadly deceived.
Please note that this is no indictment of the local people at CenturyLink, Comcast, or any of the other providers in town. The techs and engineers who keep it all rolling in this valley at are all professionals who are great at their jobs and care about doing a good job every day. We're talking about the bigger numbers game where companies like Comcast and CenturyLink are asked to answer to sharehholders who are focused on ROI. I hate to break it to you, but Steamboat is a really small slice of the pie and building out capacity in Steamboat vs. other locations is difficult to prioritize for these big numbers driven telcos. I've personally seen how much of a priority Steamboat has been for these companies for the last 15 years working in IT in Steamboat. Frankly, it is companies like SpringSips, NC Telecom, Resort Broadband, and Zirkel Wireless, and now Mammoth that have really paved the way for the broadband expansions that the big telcos have acquiesced to in our community! And now, the combined group that makes up the NCB including the City, County, School District, and YVEA has made a splash that will help and encourage the private market to improve its products for our region.
The SB152 override will allow more bandwidth to come to Steamboat. It would also allow NCB, whose members include the City and the County, the ability to re-sell excess bandwidth to local providers including Comcast, CenturyLink, and Zirkel Wireless or other large consumers like YVEA or YVMC. The bottom line is that the SB152 override will allow a more open market because it lifts restrictions that prevent governments from engaging in the business of bandwidth. If you take a moment to examine the money that supports the existence of this bill, I think you will easily find that it paints a pretty clear picture that SB152 is designed to protect the business interests of a few privately held businesses like Comcast and CenturyLink.
I think that this article from the Denver Post does a good job of explaining why every community is Colorado stands to benefit from overriding the SB152 restrictions: http://www.denverpost.com/ci_26474973/yes-eliminate-barriers-local-decisions
Amen! Of course if it goes to the High School, the kids may still call it the "Road to Nowhere."
Charlie would be a great candidate.
It seems pretty clear to me that the bus service is a critical piece of our infrastructure. I would urge the Council to commit to the funding increase right away and to budget it as a general fund expenditure. There certainly are some options in the future to generate more revenue for the transportation system, but it is unlikely that there is time to implement any of these options before the budget season is done.
As far as the options for future revenue is concerned, I think I agree with George that the RTA probably holds the most potential. Asking for handouts from only a few local businesses to help fund it is a non-starter. Why should Ski Corps or the hospital pay for a service that 99% of other businesses get for free? If it is going to be a paid service, it has to be paid for by all riders, or all businesses equally. With the exception of the college route, the Yellow route... CMC needs to step up and help fund that route if they want it back in service since it primarily serviced their needs.
In my opinion, the local routes need to stay free in order to keep them efficient and provide a high level of service to our locals and our guests. And not only should the Council restore the level of service that they just cut, but they should plan to expand it back to include the late night routes that were cut! THEN... there needs to be a commitment to establishing a working group to study funding options for our regional system because it does not make sense to assume it should always be a general fund expenditure. The current funding model is not sustainable. For it to be an effective and regional system it needs to be supported by a funding source other then the city's general fund.
I would consider it, but don't know that I am the right person for the job. I appreciate your positive approach to these forums Scott. Like you, I really try to focus on positive exchange of ideas and stay away from negativity. Thanks for all you do!
I never meant to imply that the brochure I referenced covers everything there is about school financing Scott, only that you cannot draw a straight line from TIF financed URAs to a loss of funding for K-12 in Colorado. I can draw a straight line from TABOR to devastating impacts to CDE funding though!
Here is what I am suggesting... you might state that there is "harm" to RE-2 because you are assuming that the proposed improvements will not cause a resulting increase in property tax valuations that offsets the diversions. I'd argue, very convincingly of course, that you were mistaken and the upside is huge; however that argument is a red herring altogether because the State does not evaluate the distributions to any particular district based on whether or not the local taxing authorities have approved a URA with TIF Financing. Period!
So the argument here as I understand it is that the overall strength of CDE funding in the State of Colorado is somehow weakened by allowing URA financing by TIF. But I would argue that this is an incredibly successful method by which the State stimulates growth and ultimately strengthens the economy by encouraging private development and a growing property tax base. This is just not black and white and the your conclusions are based on unproven assumptions or predictions... as of course mine are too... ;)
Sometimes the changes we want to see in our community just need a bit of a kick start. Now is a good time to invest in some basic infrastructure improvements in our core business center and this is a very unique opportunity to leverage our growth to get it done today.
I know I mentioned it previously, but just to reiterate, I hugely appreciate the challenge you have taken on to serve on the school board. Indeed it is probably the most difficult community service role one could shoulder. I'd argue it's more difficult than serving on City Council any day. So thank you again.
As I see it though this is not a question of you simply being able to connect the dots for us to demonstrate that there is a direct correlation between a local URA using TIF financing and the State's funding to a school district. In fact I would argue that you have to add a bunch of dots that aren't there for you to complete that line of reasoning. Here is how the state calculates funding to a school district: http://www.cde.state.co.us/cdefinance/fy2014-15brochure. There is nothing referencing local TIF collections, or any other local tax issues for that matter. By the same reasoning EVERY other state expenditure, grant, or tax exemption needs to be evaluated by the same yardstick as potentially impacting school funding.
I completely agree that the State of Colorado can do better by our children. Every dollar spent on early childhood education saves the state somewhere between 10 and 20 dollars down the road. I get it. If the US intends to keep its place ahead of the pack we had better start getting serious about educating our future generations. The real problem in the State of Colorado is TABOR, not some local communities trying to spur development, improve safety, or leverage a rising real estate market to fund improvements that ultimately will lift all our boats... including RE-2s!
Mr. Shelesky is correct. Sometimes I am amazed at the level of arm-chair quarterbacking that goes on in this forum. Please remember that there are 7 Council members who spend huge amounts of their time with little reward working for this community in this political capacity. They are not conspiring to spend your money and they are not conspiring to enrich some faceless corporations or individuals unfairly. They work every day to represent the citizens in the process, to make our community better, to make our neighborhoods safer, and to make this a wonderful place to live and visit. I will probably never agree with all 7 of them on any issue, but I thank all of them for stepping up and doing their jobs, sometimes in the face of harsh criticism.
Indeed, there is a danger to doing nothing. Council is wise to recognize that the recovering economy presents a unique opportunity to leverage future gains in sales and property taxes towards some projects that are long overdue. The vast majority of the financing, 85 or 90% if I recall (as the staff most recently proposed), would come from future sales tax gains, and it is possible that the council may end up deciding to exempt property taxes from this URA altogether. That is a decision they have not made yet.
In my opinion, it is unfortunate that there are still those who are suggesting that the school district stands to lose from this deal. Through the URA process, The State of Colorado will back-fill any revenues redirected to the URA, and the City has suggested taking the guarantee to the school district one step further and directly contracting with the RE-2 district to hold their revenues "harmless" should the URA be approved in order to protect from a scenario where the State fails to meet its obligations to the district. Some members of the school board feel that this puts them in a position of being more beholden to the State for its financing, and while they are entitled to that political viewpoint, it is disingenuous to further suggest that the local school district will be financially harmed.
So council, I second Steve Shelesky's sentiment... be bold, show leadership, and move forward with the downtown URA. Thank you for your service.
George, although I disagree with your viewpoint on this issue, I respect your right to disagree with me loudly. Let's just agree to keep it civil please. I cannot understand what is gained with personal attacks.
I could not agree more with Bill Dalzell on this issue. George, you clearly don't get it, or you think it is no big deal. Well, it is a big deal, and Karen should be applauded for stepping into the fray to stand up for what is right. I confronted a man in Whistler Park the other day who casually looked around to see if anyone was watching while his dog pooped. Of course, he was hoping nobody was watching, or nobody would say anything if they were watching. He was wrong, and I'm not the type to let stupid people get away with disrespecting my neighborhood that way. After some cajoling, he finally grabbed one of the bags that are stocked at the front entrance and did the right thing. The thing is that this problem only improves if dog owners are convinced to do the right thing, and people who stand by and let the idiots get away with that nonsense also contribute to the problem. So even if you are a responsible dog owner and always pick up after your dog, maybe you should also consider taking a page out of Karen's book and make the idiots out there understand that their actions do impact us all.
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