Council adds money for YVRA | SteamboatToday.com

Council adds money for YVRA

Christine Metz

The Steamboat Springs City Council made a commitment to contribute $50,000 a year over the next five years for improvements to Yampa Valley Regional Airport.

The council met Tuesday night to discuss its five-year capital improvement plan, which proposes $38 million in expenditures. Capital improvement projects mainly fell under two categories: those that could be funded by the estimated $17 million raised in city revenues and those that were earmarked to be done if a property tax passes in November.

The council has said it wants voters to know where the added revenue from the 3.55-mill property tax would be spent if approved.

City Council Pro Tempore Paul Strong suggested putting $50,000 aside each year for capital improvements related to the upgrade of the regional airport terminal, but the council did not decide from what part of the budget it would be taken.

They made suggestions on how the budget could be rearranged, but asked city staff to come back with a list of reductions.

City Finance Director Don Taylor gave an overview of the city’s long-range capital improvement plan and projects that had been targeted for the next five years.

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Those projects were burying utilities in the downtown area, creating a paving maintenance program, replacing the Yahmonite Bridge, replacing two firetrucks and two ambulances, improving the Steamboat Springs Airport, improving trails, continuing the Yampa River Legacy Project west of town, improving South Lincoln medians, replacing the tennis bubble, renovating Ski Time Square and expanding the city’s public works maintenance shop.

The council talked about postponing for one year a visual improvement project for the downtown area, from Third to 13th streets.

The project, which would remove utility poles and bury lines, was scheduled to start in 2004, Deputy City Manager Wendy DuBord said.

Part of the project is funded by a 1 percent franchise fee and will cost $3.9 million spread over a six-year period.

Strong suggested reducing the amount spent on acquiring open space and parkland by 10 percent. The city had budgeted $500,000 a year, but just $125,000 of that is city money, which will be used to leverage grants.

The council said it wanted to keep that level of spending.

“I think the leverage for green and open space is a huge priority and should be (kept) exactly as it is,” Councilwoman Arianthe Stettner said.

The proposal to spend $1 million to replace the tennis bubble also was given a hard look.

City Manager Paul Hughes said the bubble is in bad shape and is used heavily. The tennis bubble is subsidized by the city.

Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. President Chris Diamond said the ski area is willing to help pay for the improvements to the bubble, if it could be remodeled into a facility that could hold concerts and other events put on by the ski area.

Hughes said the city has had discussions with Ski Corp. but said the company’s request to use the facility during winter months was in conflict with the heaviest use by tennis players. Council urged city staff to continue those talks.

“It would be crazy not to have discussions with them at this point,” Council President Kathy Connell said.

Capital improvements could be deferred in other areas of the budget, council members said. City Transportation Director George Krawzoff said the $150,000 proposed for improving bus shelters in 2005 could be delayed for more critical projects.

Council also talked about deferring the auxiliary lighting in the Howelsen Ice Arena and questions were raised as to whether improvements to the median on South Lincoln Avenue were vital.

— To reach Christine Metz call 871-4229

or e-mail cmetz@steamboatpilot.com