Steve Lewis

Steve Lewis 6 months, 3 weeks ago on Steamboat Springs Parks & Rec group would forgive tax on food for 12.5 mills of property tax, $3 million in new taxes

There is another problem with switching to property taxes:

The original Tax Policy Advisory Board, 2004, compared city sales tax revenues over time with the alternative revenues the city might have seen with property taxes. Sales tax revenues grew more than property tax revenues would have over the same timeframe. This committee should review that comparison anew, they may see their proposal to switch back to property taxes may actually diminish future city revenue.


Steve Lewis 6 months, 3 weeks ago on Steamboat Springs Parks & Rec group would forgive tax on food for 12.5 mills of property tax, $3 million in new taxes

The Gallagher Amendment is the constitutional amendment referred to above. This old article explains the Gallagher problem:

"Colorado – Unintended Consequences of the Gallagher Amendment

When colorado voters approved the gallagher amendment in 1982, the goal Was to protect homeowners from skyrocketing property taxes. However... there have also been some unintended consequences. Gallagher has increased the tax burden on commercial and industrial property owners and officials fear the situation may get worse...

The Gallagher Amendment divides the state’s total property tax burden between residential and nonresidential property. It requires that 45% of the total amount of state property tax come from residential property and 55% come from commercial/ industrial property. Further, the Amendment mandates that the assessment ratio for commercial/ industrial property be fixed at 29%. The residential ratio, on the other hand, is adjusted annually to hold the 45/55 split constant.

In 1982, the first year of Gallagher, the residential property assessment ratio was 21% and the nonresidential property assessment ratio was 29%. The rapid escalation in residential property values, combined with the growth boom of the 1990’s, led to the 45% share of property tax collected from residential properties being dispersed across more and more residences that were worth more and more money. In order to maintain the 45/55 split, the residential property assessment ratio has dropped to the current level of 7.96%. As a result, a million dollars worth of commercial property has a 2010 assessed value of $290,000 while a million dollars worth of residential property has an assessed value of $79,600.

The Everitt Real Estate Center at CSU released a discussion paper ... that explores the ramifications of the Gallagher Amendment on the state’s economy. The report entitled, Gallagher Amendment Revisited: What’s Changed for Residential and Commercial Real Estate and Why It’s Important, says Colorado’s commercial property taxes are generally higher than other states nearby based on several benchmarks. The results include:

•Colorado offce property owners pay more tax per square foot to asking rent ratio distributions than owners in Arizona, Utah and New Mexico

•Office owners in Colorado also pay higher property taxes as a percent of total income than their counterparts in Arizona, Utah, Oregon, Washington and California

The findings suggest that as property taxes continue to shift more heavily onto office and other commercial and industrial property, it’s creating a negative impact on Colorado’s competitiveness with other Western states.

In addition, expected residential devaluations for many heavily populated or second- home market counties impacted by the housing crisis may place an even higher tax burden on Colorado business properties in the years to come."


Steve Lewis 7 months, 1 week ago on In light of the ongoing lawsuit, do you think City Council should reconsider its approval of several controversial variances relating to the proposed apartment complex development planned at 1125 Lincoln Ave.?

Yes, its a stupid proposition. City approval of a permit to develop is a binding contract that cannot be rescinded without cause. The Pilot is crafty, good ethics make you look like a project supporter.

"Do you think the City was wrong to approve the building with all of its variances in the first place?"

That poll would be a resounding YES!


Steve Lewis 7 months, 2 weeks ago on Our view: The numbers don't lie

I agree. The city should be commended for the sidewalk and lighting projects throughout the downtown. For my dollar, the smartest project the city has done in many years. The choice to use 75% owner assessments over a TIF was important and fair. Our block on Oak St with lighted sidewalks will be a significant improvement for our customers.

Thank you Steamboat. Well done.


Steve Lewis 7 months, 2 weeks ago on City hiring PR manager to help with outreach, messaging

Sales tax revenue from tourism is usually estimated to be much higher than 20% I think 40% is the lowest number I've seen for the tourism share. We should all know what that % is.

"Promoting government plans....." yeah, I know that makes sense to a new city manager. Actualizing OUR plan, the Steamboat Springs Area plan, we don't hear much about that except planning department's march toward a single element of that plan: Infill. Infill trumps everything. Standing rules are routinely discarded in the name of Infiill. A conversation about Infill and how it bears negatively on downtown character and parking - where is the staff time for that important conversation?

You don't need public relations staff when you are doing what your constituents want done.


Steve Lewis 7 months, 3 weeks ago on City hiring PR manager to help with outreach, messaging

Some 25 years ago our engineering firm saw a new business in town entering our market. The youngest of us surprised me with her response, "The competition will make us better." She likened it to her days in ski racing and we immediately accepted her logic - we were going to become better at our jobs.

I agree with Scott. Letting the public see city government in full, errors and all, is more painful but it is the road to the highest end. Marketing by government is simply a means to hide what might be done better. Just do your job and understand that more feedback is a good thing for your end product.

Kathi Meyer, you are doing great work. Thank you!


Steve Lewis 7 months, 3 weeks ago on City Council narrowly approves PR effort for air service program

Yes2Air, in the campaign to pass the original tax subsidy, published the fiscal and performance history of the air program from its inception many years before. It was a valuable document showing the program's benefits and also the challenges of the trends in that data.

That was the last time the public received a full accounting of the air program.

These promises of transparency keep being made, but are never fulfilled.


Steve Lewis 8 months, 1 week ago on City Council discusses potential impact of large housing proposal in west Steamboat Springs

The city could consider another approach to the west area - insist on smaller applications. In my view this proposal's 30 years of growth in one bite is a mistake.

When SB700 came forward in 2007, some city planning commissioners would have preferred a smaller annexation. City staff said they had requested SB700 pair down their application to something smaller and were turned down.

For my part, I thought smaller pieces would allow course changes to meet the realities of our future. That seemed a better approach than swallowing 2200 units and a 40 year growth plan in one bite. We later saw the public had a problem with the size of SB700. That debate seemed about confidence in the significant and distant obligations of water and other infrastructure being contracted for.

Economic confidence at that time was epic. But turned with the recession to become a major factor in the rejection of SB700. Economic confidence today suggests we limit our obligations to a shorter term.

Steamboat Springs once had a clear view of where it was headed. The first area plan gave us that. Today we seem to lack a rudder. Would we know a good annexation proposal if we saw it?


Steve Lewis 8 months, 1 week ago on City planners reviewing several new development projects

Dimensional standards define the future character of a city. Given these no longer apply in Steamboat, the town's future character is anyone's guess. Fortunately Riverview seems to understand character better than our planners, proposing to voluntarily cap their site's densities near current standards.


Steve Lewis 8 months, 2 weeks ago on City planners reviewing several new development projects

“Everybody is recalibrating in response to the changed market,” Gibbs said. More true, everyone is recalibrating after the city approval of the huge building variances at 1125 Lincoln.

As 1125 Lincoln went through last Spring, I complained in writing to the city planning director and city council that the 8 variances being supported by staff indicated our codes were obsolete and should be cured a.s.a.p. That they should fix our codes rather than ignore them. The planning director's email response was that the rewrite was due in 2017 and there was no reason to rush, the one or two like 1225 Lincoln "would inform the revisions". Councilor Jason Lacy echoed this attitude in another email.

There are no rules? This is very disappointing and unprofessional city management.