City of Steamboat proposes to raise several fees to better recover cost of some city services
December 18, 2017
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Steamboat Springs residents could soon have to pay more for several common city services ranging from sales tax license applications to vacation home rental permit renewals as the city strives to get on a more solid financial footing.
Starting Jan. 1, the city is also proposing to adopt some new fees, including a $42 per hour fee charged to special event hosts who need traffic control and other services from the city's community service officers.
Under the fee increase plan, sales tax licenses will cost $50 to obtain instead of the current $25, fingerprinting at the police station will cost $30 instead of $10, vacation home rental permits will cost $75 to renew instead of $50, and several planning department services will increase as well.
For example, a pre-application review will cost a developer $500 instead of $200.
Another fee change includes an increased fee for retail marijuana license renewals.
City Manager Gary Suiter said the fee increases are part of the city's strategy to diversify its revenue stream and ultimately make the government less and less reliant on sales tax revenue.
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The fee increases also aim to achieve a better cost recovery rate for services in several departments.
"When you're solely dependent on one source of revenue, that translates into risk, and that risk means in a low snow year, we could be facing significant budgetary challenges," Suiter said. "The way you mitigate that risk is by diversifying revenue."
Discussing the decision to charge for community service officers, Suiter said the city has historically offered the service for free or for very little money.
"We were either not charging or undercharging," he said. "We are a very gratuitous organization. We've provided a lot of free service for a lot of entities, some of which were privately owned events that were profitable."
All of the fee increases were proposed after the city worked with a consultant to look at how much the city was charging for the services.
City Council also recently gave the city goals for cost recovery in certain departments.
On Tuesday, the council will decided whether to move forward with the plan.
Suiter has the authority to set city fees on his own, but he said he wanted to get public comment and input from the council before making the changes.
The city does not know how much extra revenue the changes will generate at this time, but Finance Director Kim Weber said it won't be a revenue windfall.
"There are some fees that are increasing by a large amount, but it's not a huge amount of revenue for the city," she said. "This is just one tool in the fiscal sustainability toolbox."
Weber said the city had not done a comprehensive analysis of its fee structure in recent history until a consultant recently helped with the study.
The proposed fee increases do not include any fees in the parks and recreation department.
That's because a separate master plan is underway in that department, and fees are being looked at separately.