Scott Ford

Born in Denver

Scott Ford 2 weeks, 2 days ago on Chamber still working to grow number of summer visitors recommending Steamboat to their friends

Hi Michael – You ask some great questions and I have some answers with a dose of perspective.
I would agree with you that there is a shift taking place with the demographics of the summer visitor. The visitor is becoming older. According to summer market research done by RRC and Associates for the Chamber in 2006 the average age was 42.3. Eight years later in 2014 the average age is now 49.2. About 34% of the summer visitors in 2014 were age 55 or older. . In addition, the average summer visitor is more affluent. In 2014 over a third of the summer visitors had a household income greater than $150K. When we consider that during the summer months 40% of the visitors are from Colorado and the median family income in Colorado was just over $72,000 a Steamboat Springs summer vacation that involves staying in paid lodging may only be affordable to the top 20% of families in Colorado.
In both 2013 & 2014 about 40% of the Summer Visitors had also come to Steamboat Springs during the winter. In 2014 of the folks coming to Steamboat Springs in the summer about 40% were first time summer season visitors and 60% repeat visitors.

Now a dose of my perspective - I am all for making some much needed infrastructure improvements downtown. The current sidewalk situation on both Yampa and Oak can only be described as a hodgepodge of missing connections. It’s goofy!
The cost of providing pedestrian lighting and sidewalks on Oak Street is about $1 million. The cost of the Yampa Street pedestrian promenade and lighting is about $1.2 million. Sidewalks along the side streets would be about another $1 million. Add another $2 million to make all the street crossings ADA and grade compliant the total cost is over $5 million. Is this a lot of money? Yes. Is this doable? Yes. It is simply a matter of City Council setting priorities. For example, $7 million has been set aside for a future police station. Does the priority of a new police station trump downtown infrastructure improvements? Another approach Council could consider would be dedicating all or a portion of future sales tax revenues in the event of a surplus to these downtown infrastructure projects.

In addition, nothing says all these improvements need to be done in one year. I would welcome seeing a phased approached. Right now the only option being discussed for these infrastructure improvements is a Downtown URA and Tax Increment Financing. This is an all or nothing approach. To put it simply City Council is being told by staff that without a URA the infrastructure proposed for downtown will not happen. There are other ways to fund these infrastructure improvements without the “baggage” associated with a URA. (Although I am a member of City Council my opinions are my own and may not be shared by my fellow council members.)

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Scott Ford 2 weeks, 3 days ago on Chamber still working to grow number of summer visitors recommending Steamboat to their friends

Good Morning Scott W –

A point of clarification the $660K in in the “community support” budget approved by City Council and to be given to Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association in the 2015 budget is for Summer Marketing. The Ski Corp has the primary responsibility to market the winter. There are no dollars in the City’s budget for winter marketing beyond a small amount for promoting Howelsen Hill. This $660K ear marked for Summer Marketing does not cause me a great deal of heart burn because these funds have their roots in the vendor fee. A business that collects state sales tax is allowed to withhold 3.3% from the total tax due as compensation for administering the sales tax properly, keeping the records and remitting the funds timely.

The City of Steamboat Springs does not have a “vendor fee” hold back on its sales tax because it collects its own portion of the sales tax due.
At some point in the 1980’s an amount equivalent to the vendor fee was viewed as a source for summer marketing funds. In addition, there was a time that the City would match these funds Since the mid 1990’s the City no longer does this practice. The projected sales tax collection in the 2015 budget is about $20 million. The vendor fee equivalent would be about $660K.

(Although I am a member of City Council my opinions are my own and may not reflect those of other council members.)

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Scott Ford 2 weeks, 4 days ago on Chamber still working to grow number of summer visitors recommending Steamboat to their friends

Hi Pat – There is essentially no way to measure with any degree of certainty the number of people that an amenity such as a new mountain bike trail or a Yampa Street mini-park along the river brought to town. The Chamber research done by RRC & Associates does capture what was the primary motivator for coming to Steamboat Springs. In 2013 5% indicated that it was biking (this would include both mountain and road). In 2014 that number was 4%. I think it would be safe to say that about 5% of visitors to Steamboat Springs indicated that biking, in all its forms, was the primary motivator. I can acknowledge that biking is the primary motivator for the 5% of the visitors to town, however, we need to know how many visitors came in total before the 5% is meaningful.
(Although I am a member of City Council my opinions are my own and may not reflect those of other council members.)

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Scott Ford 2 weeks, 5 days ago on Chamber still working to grow number of summer visitors recommending Steamboat to their friends

The Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association (SSCRA) Marketing Committee is measuring what is relatively easy to measure at this point. For example, increase in general sales tax, increases in Accommodation Tax collections and occupancy rates over the previous year. Beyond these three measurements SSCRA is primarily measuring activities associated with various marketing strategies. For example, increases in web page visits, expansion of social media outlets, the number of trade shows attended, number of times Steamboat Springs was featured in the national press, etc. To be fair to all concerned I do not think in the past SSCRA has been asked to provide more detailed measurements beyond those listed. I know that going forward I will be asking for more.

I would like to see measurements that focus less on “activities” and more on “achievements”. For example increases/decreases in the number of visitors staying in paid lodging, longer or shorter lengths of stay, increases/declines in average spending by visitors.

When I have asked in the past how many visitors came to town during the summer we become a wee-bit flummoxed by this question. There is no need to be because I think we have all the pieces necessary to answer this question. It involves using the summer research done by RRC Associates and city tax collection data. These two sources simply need to be put together.

I was very encouraged following a meeting I had with Jim Clark, the new Chamber Executive Vice President. He understands the importance of measurements that focus on the desired outcome. (Although I am a member of City Council my opinions are my own and may not reflect those of other council members.)

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Scott Ford 3 weeks ago on Failure of tax poised to impact future of downtown Steamboat infrastructure improvements

The estimated number of 500 eligible voters within the Downtown Business Improvement District was just a wild guess that was stated by the BID Board at the “Open House” which occurred on September 29th. That is when it became clear to me that this BID election is not like any other election we are familiar with. The regulations associated with a BID elections are so different and involved that the Routt County Clerk’s office declined to administer the election. Who is eligible and who is not is a bit of a mind puzzle to figure out. Once this is figured out submitting the correct paper work to get a ballot was a hoop jumping contest. Kudos to Tracy Barnett of Mainstreet Steamboat. She worked hard with the Denver law firm administering this bid election to communicate a very complex eligibility election process. If it had not been for Tracy’s communication efforts the number of votes cast would have likely been much lower.

The 2007 BID election failed by 6 votes. Seven years later there were a total of 255 votes, about twice the number cast in the 2007 election. This time BID failed by 15. What this tells me is that enough those who have businesses downtown and would be impacted by an increase in property taxes have said, “No Thank You!” Twice! Simply put they do not see how the increase in Property Taxes would benefit their business. Without question some do, however, a majority of those that voted did not. The results of two elections should be a clear message to City Council about how the businesses of downtown feel about increasing taxes to be used for maintenance, beautification, marketing and administration. A NO Thank You; (Twice) should be message enough. (Agreed?)

(Although I am a member of City Council my opinions are my own and may not be shared by other council members.)

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Scott Ford 3 weeks ago on Downtown Steamboat Springs stakeholders narrowly reject proposal to fund BID with property tax

The estimated number of 500 eligible voters within the Downtown Business Improvement District was just a wild guess that was stated by the BID Board at the “Open House” which occurred on September 29th. That is when it became clear to me that this BID election is not like any other election we are familiar with.

The regulations associated with a BID elections are so different and involved that the Routt County Clerk’s office declined to administer the election. Who is eligible and who is not is a bit of a mind puzzle to figure out. Once this is figured out submitting the correct paper work to get a ballot was a hoop jumping contest.

Kudos to Tracy Barnett of Mainstreet Steamboat. She worked hard with the Denver law firm administering this bid election to communicate a very complex eligibility election process. If it had not been for Tracy’s communication efforts the number of votes cast would have likely been much lower.

The 2007 BID election failed by 6 votes. Seven years later there were a total of 255 votes, about twice the number cast in the 2007 election. This time BID failed by 15. What this tells me is that enough those who have businesses downtown and would be impacted by an increase in property taxes have said, “No Thank You!” Twice! Simply put they do not see how the increase in Property Taxes would benefit their business. Without question some do, however, a majority of those that voted did not.

The results of two elections should be a clear message to City Council about how the businesses of downtown feel about increasing taxes to be used for maintenance, beautification, marketing and administration. A NO Thank You; (Twice) should be message enough. (Agreed?)

(Although I am a member of City Council my opinions are my own and may not be shared by other council members.)

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Scott Ford 3 weeks, 3 days ago on Steamboat City Council is 1 vote shy of adding parking meters downtown

Rhys - The idea of a reverse parking meter is an interesting one. I have not heard it before and it is an example of truly out of the box thinking and I would expect nothing less of you. Personally I do not what to see anytime soon parking meters reverse or otherwise. Even if reverse parking meters were possible it would be way too easy to reverse the reverse meter to a traditional pay as you go parking meter. Unless something of interest to others emerges I believe you and I are beginning to have a, albeit personally interesting, an exchange others may not find thought-provoking. I will leave this blog discussion on this topic with this - "Never attribute to duplicity or malice that which can be attributed to stupidity.” (Although I am a current member of City Council my opinions are my own and may not be shared by other council members.)

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Scott Ford 3 weeks, 3 days ago on Steamboat City Council is 1 vote shy of adding parking meters downtown

Hi Rhys – I do not think there are any more details to investigate regarding the genesis of the parking study. Fault finding in this situation is only useful to a point and in my opinion we have likely reached that point. However, there is always room for improvement in the process.

The $54K spent on the parking study in my opinion was a mistake, however, it was not an out-of-budget mistake. I am hopeful that this is an opportunity to learn and steps can be taken to insure better communication between council and staff. If we do not make an effort to learn from mistakes we are doomed to repeat them. This is true on a personal as well as organizational level. (Although I am a current member of City Council my opinions are my own and may not be shared by other council members.)

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Scott Ford 3 weeks, 3 days ago on Steamboat City Council is 1 vote shy of adding parking meters downtown

Good Morning Steve -

Thanks for the correction about the focus of the ULI report and the year. Between Scott W, Stuart, you and me when we put on our collective thinking caps we are pretty good at putting the pieces of a “What Happened & Why” puzzle together.

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Scott Ford 3 weeks, 4 days ago on Steamboat City Council is 1 vote shy of adding parking meters downtown

Good Morning Ben & All –

Great question, “Who authorized this parking study?” Let me see if I can put the recent “parking study” into context with what I can best characterize as logical speculation. The “parking study” likely had its beginnings following a “visit” from the Urban Land Institute (ULI) in the summer/fall of 2013(?). Mainstreet Steamboat had received a grant to bring these folks to town and do an analysis of the downtown area.

When the ULI report was presented completed one of the report recommendations was that an analysis of the downtown parking situation should be done. The last formal downtown parking analysis had been done in 1999 and the feeling was that a lot of things had changed downtown. This suggestion along with a lot of others about infrastructure improvements and making downtown more pedestrian friendly were in the report. My guess is City Council said, “Hey, there are a lot of good ideas in this report we ought to explore and think about.” Although I have not reviewed the City Council minutes from this time period(?), this or a similar statement was as likely as specific as City Council made.

Likely acting on a perceived general direction of City Council staff started to look into the issue of downtown parking. Although the City has some very talented staff, it was likely felt that it did not possess the necessary skills to do a downtown parking analysis. Thus a parking study is initiated.

This parking study was likely going to be paid for out of the City Manager’s “contingency budget” or perhaps out of the downtown parking fund that was established with the payment in-lieu of program. Since it was not a supplemental budget request, it did not need to come back before City Council for approval. Let’s just say sometime during the fall of last year the City Manager instructed the Director of Public Works to bid for and negotiate a contract for a downtown parking study. After I am sure some back-n-forth about the scope of work and costs – Desman & Associates were eventually selected for $54,000 .

(Although I am a member of City Council my opinions are my own and may not be shared by other council members.)

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