Bideau and Monger: End won’t justify means
On Tuesday, City Council will look to approve a 25-year downtown Urban Renewal Authority plan, which includes the following statement as required by law:
“The City Council finds that the presence of these (blighted) factors substantially impairs or arrests the sound growth of the City of Steamboat Springs, retards the provision of housing accommodations, constitutes an economic and social liability and is a menace to the public health, safety, morals and welfare of the City of Steamboat Springs.”
Doing so will categorize a downtown with more than 200,000 square feet in recent redevelopment and 12-percent sales tax growth last year as “impaired or arrested growth.” Parks will be declared a “menace to public health and safety.” A nationally recognized downtown that generates one-fifth of the city’s sales tax revenue will be declared a “social and economic liability.” At least $1 million in property taxes allocated in the ballot box to the county and school district will be redirected.
Instead of following city policy and collaborating with the school district and county, a mostly one-way process has been used where the city defines harm to those entities and then refuses to accept their objections. Despite newly signed legislation to safeguard the county and school district from such behavior, City Council is looking to rush the adoption of this URA to avoid such protections before they take effect.
One concerned citizen has already submitted an ethics violation complaint regarding potential City Council member conflicts of interest. It remains uninvestigated and unresolved more than a month later. Many more citizens have long questioned the legal means for enacting such an authority, given the clear discrepancy between the current state of our downtown versus the statutory requirements for “blight and slum.”
We support downtown Steamboat Springs but believe that no end justifies potentially illegal or unethical means. We find the proposed URA and TIF process itself to be the only menace to public morals and encourage our fellow citizens to hold City Council accountable to the policies and state law they took an oath to support.
Steamboat Springs RE-2 Board of Education, director (at large)
Routt County Commission chairman
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