From tax proposals to western annexation, Steamboat City Council has unfinished business to tend to in 2018
January 1, 2018
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — The Steamboat Springs City Council has some unfinished business to attend to in 2018. Some of the decisions they'll weigh are nearly two years in the making, while others, such as whether to continue several new off-leash dog trails, are more recent additions to the city agenda. From potential budget cuts to new downtown development, here's a look at some of the stories to keep an eye out for in 2018.
It's now been more than 18 months since the leaders of Brynn Grey Partners first approached the City Council with a concept to develop new neighborhoods that would be annexed into the city. But the talks have started to drag on, with the latest hiccup being a delay in getting a study of the financial impacts the new development would have on the city's budget by needing such things as snowplowing services and police protection. The talks are expected to pick back up sometime in March. And residents are finally poised to find out whether the city is destined to grow by more than 400 homes to the west.
The long-vacant RiverView parcel in downtown Steamboat Springs finally is seeing a spark. In a matter of weeks, there will be public hearings on a proposal to build new riverfront duplexes along the Yampa River. The duplexes are the first of what is expected to be several major development proposals that will come through in the new RiverView Development, a 4.7-acre parcel on the southern end of downtown that has remained undeveloped for several years.
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The city and Routt County are on track to finally break ground on a much-anticipated new law enforcement facility in West Steamboat. The new police headquarters is several years in the making, and the city navigated a very bumpy course to get to the shared facility. Previous proposals ultimately passed over included building the station on a corner of Rita Valentine Park and tearing down the former Iron Horse Inn to make way for the facility.
The city's beloved ski hill is aging, and the city still is trying to come up with a 20-year vision for the facility. One of the big questions that remains unanswered is how the city will afford to pay for any recommended improvements at the facility. The city's quest to find a new operator for the ski area didn't turn up any offers the City Council was interested in. So it’s going to the drawing board and asking the community what it thinks the ski area and surrounding park should look like 20 years from now.
With City Council concerned about the city's financial future and its continued reliance on sales tax revenue, there have been more mentions recently on the dais of possible property tax proposals to fund such things as Howelsen Hill. Community members who feel the city is underfunding its parks and recreation amenities have also considered the idea of forming a special taxing district to oversee parks and rec. It's likely talks about potential new revenue sources will get more serious in 2018.
With city expenses starting to surpass revenues, the city is predicting it might have to make some tough financial choices in the coming years to keep a balanced budget. That might mean cuts to city services that citizens are accustomed to. Residents got a taste of what might come soon when the city considered eliminating night bus service during mud season. But the council cancelled that cut after concerns were raised that the service reduction would sting local workers who depend on the bus to get to and from work.
Steamboat's experiment with several new off-leash dog areas is still very young. While dog advocates said the trial has been going very well so far, city officials reported late last year they had received some reports of off-leash dogs attacking other dogs, and even an on-leash goat, in some of the new off-leash areas. Steamboat Digs Dogs is currently planning to add more canine-related improvements to Rita Valentine Park, including a water fountain and more trees for shade. The council is expected this year to decide whether the off-leash experiment should continue.