Council looks at URA bond while also cutting $4M from capital budget |

Council looks at URA bond while also cutting $4M from capital budget

Brandon Gee

Steamboat Springs city worker Levi Wisecup uses a powerful saw to cut the sidewalk near Third Street and Lincoln Avenue on Monday. The city is considering cuts to its capital improvement budget that could limit projects this summer.

Declining revenues are forcing the Steamboat Springs City Council to consider cutting nearly $4 million in capital projects on the same day council members will be asked to take on as much as $16 million in new debt.

In an effort to sustain the momentum of public improvement projects at the base of Steamboat Ski Area, the Urban Redevelopment Advisory Committee will present three financing options to City Council today. Without the issuance of new debt this year, projections show the city’s URA running out of design and construction money by June.

A $16 million bond measure would allow the construction of a promenade around the immediate ski base and other large projects to be completed in time for the start of the 2011-12 ski season.

The URA is funded by sales and property tax increments within its base-area boundaries, but its debt also is backed by the city to achieve lower interest rates. A bond measure as large as $16 million also could require the city to commit reserves to back a portion of the offering.

City Council President Loui Antonucci said Monday that a $16 million bond measure is “scary.”

“I don’t ever want to put the city in the position of not being able to pay its debt,” he said.

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However, Antonucci said he could be supportive of an $11.2 million financing option. A bond measure that size still would allow for the construction of the promenade and a rerouting of Burgess Creek through the ski base. Perks such as the snowmelt system, a major fountain at Gondola Square and a boulder play area in the creek would have to be eliminated. However, each could be constructed at a later date if new money became available.

The third scenario is a $5.3 million bond measure that would fund the design of the larger projects and also pay for the construction of some of the smaller ones. Antonucci said such a small issuance “doesn’t make any sense” because the cost of issuing the debt would be too high relative to the proceeds.

Antonucci said he is supportive of preventing the URA from going dormant this summer because its work could help stimulate and build confidence in the local economy and put the base area in a good position to capture new property and sales taxes when the economy turns around. City Manager Jon Roberts noted the city also would be able to take advantage of lower construction costs.

Capital cuts

Also today, City Council will be asked to weigh in on a plan that would reduce the city’s 2009 expenditures on capital projects from $13.1 million to $11.7 million. The plan includes $3.9 million in cut projects and $2.5 million in new projects or those carried over from 2008.

“It’s because we’re now projecting a decline in revenues, particularly building use tax and excise tax,” said Roberts, adding that the projects won’t be totally eliminated but deferred to later years.

In total, the city expects the one-time revenues that go toward capital projects – most of which ebb and flow with private construction activity – to decline $2.4 million this year. Projects being delayed include $400,000 from the city’s general pavement maintenance program, $1.5 million that was going to be used to acquire land for a new public safety building, $440,000 from open space acquisition and $75,000 for an update of the Steamboat Springs Area Community Plan. Preserved projects include $1.2 million for two new buses, $2.2 million for improvements to Lincoln Avenue downtown, $500,000 for new accounting software and $355,000 for a new skateboard park.

Many of the preserved projects are leveraged heavily with outside funding or must be constructed this year. The Lincoln Avenue improvements, for example, must be completed in conjunction with overhaul of the road by the Colorado Department of Transportation scheduled for later this year.

Antonucci said he is supportive of the revised capital projects budget.

“We just have to do the right thing and protect what we have rather than spreading ourselves too thin,” he said. “I’m all for taking a very conservative stance.”

If you go

What: Steamboat Springs

City Council meeting

When: 4 p.m. today

Where: Centennial Hall, 124 10th St.

Call: City offices at 879-2060 for more information; call 871-7070 to listen live to City Council meetings


4 p.m. Council convenes as the Steamboat Springs Redevelopment Authority to discuss public improvement projects at the base of the Steamboat Ski Area

5 p.m. Capital projects review

6 p.m. Grant applications; resolution accepting a memorandum of understanding between Colorado, the town of Hayden and the city of Steamboat Springs for the joint use and operation of athletic fields and the right to use the fields for Triple Crown Sports tournaments and other competitions; first reading of a “social host” ordinance; second reading of an ordinance extending the vesting period six months for The Porches, phase two; second reading of an ordinance approving the purchase of property from Union Pacific Railroad Co.

7 p.m. Public comment; Planning Commission referrals; City Council and staff reports