3rd attempt at funding for downtown BID likely to go to voters in 2017 | SteamboatToday.com

3rd attempt at funding for downtown BID likely to go to voters in 2017

Scott Franz

Shoppers stroll through downtown Steamboat Springs on a summer afternoon.

Could the third time be the charm for the effort to fund a business improvement district in downtown Steamboat Springs?

Main Street Steamboat Springs Manager Lisa Popovich said Tuesday the downtown advocacy group will likely go back to downtown property and business owners this year to seek a property tax increase to pay for upkeep and maintenance.

City officials have long advocated such a funding mechanism.

The last time the issue came up was in late 2016, when the council agreed to pay for new holiday lights on Lincoln Avenue.

Elected officials implied that, while they would foot the bill for the first year, they would look to downtown property owners to pitch in the future.

A BID tax proposal failed in 2014 by a vote of 135 to 120, and a similar effort failed by only six votes in 2007.

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Popovich attributed the failure of the last tax proposal to confusion surrounding what a BID actually does.

The controversy surrounding whether to have the city fund an urban renewal authority with tax increment financing also clouded the BID tax proposal, Popovich said.

She said some business owners have been asking why they need to fund BID while the city is investing in downtown improvements, such as sidewalks.

"The downtown improvements are a car, and the BID is what puts the gas in it and changes the oil," Popovich said. "It's more of a common area maintenance fee. It could not put in new sidewalks, but it would help shovel the sidewalks."

The topic of a BID is likely to come up next week when Main Street meets for its annual meeting.

Popovich said before any proposal moves forward, her organization plans to talk with downtown business owners about what they would want to see BID money used for.

The last tax proposal would have netted about $260,000 per year for downtown maintenance and upkeep.

Some commercial property owners questioned tax revenue spending would be equitable among three diverse streets.

A property owner on Oak Street, for example, thought his street would not see as much of a benefit from the money as property owners on Lincoln Avenue and Yampa Street.

Some property owners also expressed fears that, by adopting a property tax for maintenance and marketing in downtown Steamboat, the city might pull back its own funding and services in the downtown area.

Leaders of the effort to fund the BID said steps would have been taken to prevent that from happening.

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210, email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ScottFranz10