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Sorry, the 140k was from 2013/2014 season projections/commitments.
I believe the 140k number was the projection for year 5 of the program whereas mine is taken from their chart's projected 2013/2014 season compared to actuals. It is truly ironic that after millions spent we are right where the proponents warned we would be without the tax - at the supposed "doomsday" seat levels with a reserve budget even lower than before.
Let's look at some "facts" about the sales tax-driven air program:
There were 2 stated and well documented goals for the new sales tax:
Dramatically increase both the available seats and actual passengers to the levels indicated in the chart (http://scottbideau.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/2B_Chart_9.16.11.jpg) produced by the Yes2Air committee and referenced by numerous city council and Chamber members.
"Stabilize" the air service program, including rebuilding of reserves.
Now let's look at a few actuals:
2013/2014 commitments made by the Yes 2 Air campaign: ~140,000 available, ~95,000 filled
2013/2014 actuals: ~100,000 available, ~70,000 filled
In other words, 2013/2014 performed almost to the exact level of actual passengers that the Yes 2 Air campaign warned was our "doomsday scenario" without the tax (as shown in the above referenced chart). Ironic to say the least.
Reserves ("Stabilizing" the program)
Looking at accommodations reserves (since this is the "permanent program" and the sales tax program reserves aren't that because they must be spent the next year and exhausted by the end of the 5-year program):
2012: $303k (year before sales tax effected)
2014 budget: $187k
So our plan for reserves went down after passing the sales tax, and I see no documentation that states what the total reserve balance needs to be at the end of the 5-year period to "stabilize" the program. Instead, it was clearly stated at the first LMD open house that, "reserves will be a function of each year's performance." Under-performing to a goal is one thing. Ignoring a goal which was promised to the tax payer is quite another.
Based on those facts, here are the recommendations I've consistently made to the LMD board and the city:
Put together a comprehensive plan as to the number of available and filled seats needed by the end of this supposed 5-year temporary tax and measure against that plan.
Put together a comprehensive plan as to the amount of reserves needed by the end of this supposed 5-year temporary tax and measure against that plan.
Increase the transparency of this public board.
3a. The boundary for LMD board eligibility made sense when it was based only on the accommodations tax. But you now have more revenues coming from sales tax, collected throughout the entire city, than from the accommodations tax within the LMD boundary. I'm not suggesting that the current LMD board members should be replaced, but rather that more individuals should be eligible to serve.
3b. Include contact information for each LMD board member on the city's website so they can solicit public input.
3c. Provide written documentation on why certain routes are chosen. We are paying SSRC to do this analysis. It should be public record.
I'd love to hear the public's feedback on these recommendations.
It's easy to claim "we don't want to harm the schools." It rolls off the tongue like "I support the troops!" But here is why even a "hold harmless" approach will still harm the schools:
URA requires the property tax component. You can't simply exempt the school district or any other entities.
Current "hold harmless" options being looked into include giving the money back to the school district if (a) the state ever decides to not backstop our gap or (b) the estimated $2.4m in property tax is raised early.
I greatly appreciate city staff taking looking into these options. It's good to know how close to "harmless" the law provides if a URA is voted forward. But this isn't "harmless," so I'd appreciate it if council and the newspaper quit using the term.
Even if the state will backstop the gap, they'd essentially be taking funds allocated for education by the voters of Colorado to pay back our district for money that instead went to economic development in downtown Steamboat. The state education budget doesn't print money at will, so this is money that other school districts loose out on. This also places more reliance for our school district on the state rather than locally.
Even if that $2.4m is reached early and all subsequent property taxes flow back to the school district as usual, that is still $2.4m that the other entities lost out on if you believe the development would have happened even without a URA.
So, with several council members going on record last meeting saying they don't support anything that harms the schools, it will be interesting to see if a more creative solution can be crafted that truly doesn't "harm" the school district, if this causes the issue to fail, or if that promise is broken and the URA goes forward anyways.
Given the fact that so many council members called the blight report flawed yet the measure is going forward despite blight being a pre-requisite, I have my concerns about the assurance of not harming the schools being counted on. In other words, will the end justify the means for 4 out of 7 council members?
(Although I am a member of the Steamboat Springs School Board, these comments are my own personal opinions and may not reflect those of my fellow board members)
Who are these "proponents?"
At the meeting last night was a clear opposition letter from the Routt County Commissioners, East Routt Library Board, and the school board. Sitting next to that was a cautionary letter from CMC that I believe is turning into a "no" statement today. We then had four people speaking out in clear opposition to the idea at public comment. The only proponents are the consultants who get paid to make this happen and certain business owners in the district who will directly benefit from the improvements. In other words, those with a conflict of interest are all for it, but not enough to put their name to paper or show up for public comment.
Here are the questions I sent to council after hearing their updated perspective during the meeting:
Why does the majority of council disagree with the blight report, yet want to continue forward on a URA/TIF that is legally dependent on such a designation?
Why are these supposed "public safety" items tied to the successful passing of the BID? Public safety will only gain council's support if the downtown group decides to market these benefits?
Besides city staff, where are the proponents at these meetings? Will this measure simply progress without either a vote or public support?
And here is a point I made last night - why is council so proud of this "blighted" area that it serves as the desktop background of the computer used to present at every meeting, and pictures of downtown rotate on the video transcript during their breaks? Does downtown need sidewalks and other infrastructure investments? Absolutely! Is it blighted and in need of a TIF/URA? Absolutely not!
(Although I am a member of the Steamboat Springs School Board, these comments are my
own personal opinions and do not represent those of the School Board)
Congratulations Carrie and Tony!
I find it ironic that the August 5th city council meeting packet has a document/topic attempting to categorize downtown as "blighted" for the URA right before the next topic/document that addresses the parking problems encountered by such a popular area.
(Although I am a member of the Steamboat Springs School Board, these comments are my own personal opinions and do not represent those of the School Board's)
I believe what was known versus just assumed depends on the source of information a person relied on. The actual enrollment numbers are a fact, and they coincide with previous projections.
The demographic study referenced is publicly available through the school district. I've also posted it to http://scottbideau.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/2014_demographic_study.pdf for the public's convenience.
I'm trying to get a copy of previous studies completed.
One quick remedy would be for the trash companies to start pickup at a more reasonable time. Waste Management arrives before 7am at my house. I wake up early to put the bin out just prior to that, but other residents set out the night before - an obvious invitation to bears. If pickup didn't start until like 8:30am (or even 8am), that would eliminate this one problematic use case. Maybe the city can enforce this? But this wouldn't generate any additional sales tax, so....
Last login: Friday, September 19, 2014
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