Council to weigh downtown improvement plan Tuesday night | SteamboatToday.com

Council to weigh downtown improvement plan Tuesday night

Scott Franz

Shoppers stroll through downtown Steamboat Springs.

— The Steamboat Springs City Council’s long quest to find the best way to pay for millions of dollars worth of downtown infrastructure improvements could reach a conclusion Tuesday night.

City staff will have four financing options for the council to consider at the latest meeting to discuss a downtown investment plan that is poised to become a big part of the council’s legacy.

After the council recently rejected the use of tax increment financing, staff is now recommending that the council use a combination of grants, franchise fees, sidewalk assessments and cash in the city’s capital reserve fund to pay for a list of improvements worth $10.3 million.

The plan would construct sidewalks, public restrooms and other basic infrastructure by the end of 2018.

The city’s cash reserves would pay for a majority of the projects.

City staff’s preferred plan would redirect $7.5 million of those reserves, which are currently earmarked for the construction of a new police station, toward the downtown projects.

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The city could then issue debt to pay for the station.

How would the downtown projects roll out?

That’s ultimately up to the council.

Council members in recent weeks have said they want to take a close look at the downtown improvements list and prioritize the projects.

City staff will have a proposed timeline for the council to look over and consider Tuesday.

In 2016, staff is proposing to complete an overhaul of Yampa Street by adding new sidewalks and a promenade, under-grounding utilities and raising two intersections to promote pedestrian safety.

Oak Street would also see new sidewalks next year.

In 2017, side streets would see a range of sidewalk work, and a new restroom would be added at Eagle Scout Park.

Finally, in 2018, the city would finish some sidewalks on Oak and 13th streets and install a restroom and amphitheater in West Lincoln Park.

City staff will ask the council to consider approving a $260,000 supplemental budget request this year that would be used to begin surveys and designs for the first wave of improvement projects.

The proposed financing plan for the downtown improvements comes weeks after the council decided not to create a new urban renewal area downtown and fund projects with a controversial tool called tax increment financing.

Other council agenda highlights include:

Police investigation

City Manager Deb Hinsvark and City Attorney Tony Lettunich want to meet with the council in executive session to discuss two conclusionary reports from an investigator who looked into claims of misconduct against Police Chief Joel Rae and Deputy Police Chief Bob DelValle.

Hinsvark said Thursday she expects the council will issue a statement or press release immediately after Tuesday’s meeting.

Hinsvark said she expects a final report from the investigator within the next two weeks.

Sales tax projection

Finance Director Kim Weber will give a preliminary projection on sales tax revenue growth for 2016.

Weber is projecting a 4 percent increase in sales tax over what is projected for 2015.

Year to date through April, the city’s sales tax is 6.7 percent above what it was in 2014.

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


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