Finance team to brief council on city costs of west Steamboat annexation
July 8, 2017
Will new homes being proposed in west Steamboat Springs be worth the millions of dollars in additional city operating and maintenance costs they will need following an annexation?
The Steamboat Springs City Council is starting to chew on this very question.
And this week would be a good time for residents to weigh in.
The city's elected officials on Tuesday will start assessing the specific costs of adding an estimated 1,100 additional people to the city through the proposed annexation.
After months of talking about the prospect of adding the 444 housing units with developer Brynn Grey, the council wants to start looking at all the potential costs on the same spreadsheet.
Finance Director Kim Weber will present a matrix the city has generated detailing what additional costs the city thinks it will take on if the annexation proposal is ultimately approved.
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For example, Weber estimates the annexation at full buildout could increase the city's police costs by $330,000 each year. That's because over the last 10 years, it has cost the city an average of $300 per resident a year to provide police services.
Other additional operating costs include snowplowing ($35,000 a year), fire and EMS services ($205,000 a year) and asphalt ($1.1 million over 12 to 15 years).
The city noted an annexation would increase the city's operating costs at all levels.
"By virtue of the fact that the city does not have a property tax, it is unlikely that revenue will offset this service level cost increase," Weber wrote in a memo to the council.
At some recent council meetings, some of the city's elected officials have wondered whether voters would need to approve a property tax before the city considered annexing new property.
There have also been more council members starting to express support for a citywide vote over the annexation instead of leaving it to the council to decide or waiting for a petition.
Brynn Grey has touted the benefits its neighborhoods would bring to the community.
Those benefits include "locals-only" housing with deed restrictions, new parks and open space and a place for a potential new elementary school.
But the developer has also sought some concessions from the city to make the new development work.
For example, in the eyes of some council members, the developer is proposing to pitch in millions of dollars less for transportation infrastructure improvements than the city would normally require a developer in the same area to make.
Ahead of Tuesday's work session to discuss the potential annexation, the council received some messages from citizens concerned about the idea of the council meeting privately with Brynn Grey to review the developer's detailed financial calculations.
Alan Goldich said such a meeting would "go against the notion of transparency."
"The developer needs to get community support for the project and an executive session is not the way to do this," he wrote. "This community expects to be informed about the issues, especially when it is the taxpayers that are asked to foot the bill so that a developer can make money."
Tuesday's work session starts at 5 p.m. in Citizens Hall.