July 19, 2011
Tuesday is Editorial Board day at the Steamboat Today. There are five members of the Editorial Board — Me, Editor Brent Boyer, Columnist Tom Ross and community representatives Laura Schmidt and Jim Miller. We meet every Tuesday at 10:15 a.m. to hash out the stances that the Editorial Board will take in editorials published Wednesday and Sunday.
That means some prep time for me on Tuesday mornings, staking out issues that I feel we should take a stance on. I am but one of five voices but here are the issues that I plan to propose we take up this week:
The SmartWool lease with the city of Steamboat Springs. Obviously, locking up the deal to keep SmartWool in place for another 10 years at the Steamboat Springs Airport is a win for the city. But we reported this morning that the city will pay upfront costs of almost $1 million to expand the facility. The funds will be paid back by SmartWool at the relatively low interest rate of 3.5 percent. Still, some may see question the loan. Not me; I think it's exactly the kind of creative economic incentive the city can provide to secure one of its most important employers.
The decision by the Yampa Valley Housing Authority not to seek a property tax in the fall. We reported on Thursday that the YVHA had reversed itself on seeking a property tax that would provide about $400,000 a year. We argued in a February editorial that the YVHA was wasting its time seeking a tax — given the collapse of the housing market and the economic recession, the YVHA's proposal had almost no chance. The YVHA came to that same conclusion last week. Obviously a good call. The YVHA is the joint creation of the city and the county; the three entities have a responsibility to sit down and figure out how to cover the agency's existing debt and operations without incurring new taxes.
This may seem counter to item 2 above, but I support the resolution the Steamboat Springs City Council will consider tonight to put a tax question before voters to fund the airline program. The airline program is critical to Steamboat's economy. We have already dedicated a lodging tax to fund the program, so I do have questions on how much more tax money is needed to sustain it. But we should certainly have the debate and if proponents can make the case that a .25 percent sales tax will secure the program for the foreseeable future, I'll likely support it with the caveat that this is it — no more taxes for the airline program.
If you have thoughts on the issues above or would ever be interested in serving on our Editorial Board, call me at 871-4202 or email me at sstanford@SteamboatToday.com