Bill Martin: The greatest benefit for the most people
Forty years ago in 1979, Steamboat Springs voted to eliminate all city property tax and institute an all-sales tax revenue source for the city. The thinking was our visitors would pay most of our bills. It sounded like a great concept.
No one at the time foresaw any downside. With the wisdom of hindsight, one of numerous drawbacks of a sales tax-based economy is there is no incentive to annex residential land to the city; it won’t pay for the city services it benefits from. On the contrary, with a property tax base, each individual residential or commercial property contributes property taxes toward the services it receives.
Ten years later in 1989, the last major annexation to the city occurred when Fairview and areas west of the current city boundary were included in the city. There were prolonged and detailed negotiations between the city council president, selected council members and representatives from the Fairview neighborhood and West Steamboat Springs businesses. In the end, an agreement was reached where all benefited.
It was understood that extending new city services to the Fairview neighborhood would cost money. However, inclusive in the annexation were many retail businesses and Bob Adams Field, which at the time provided commercial air service. These businesses would generate the new sales tax revenue needed to offset the cost of providing city utilities and services. Thus the annexation would pay for itself and create a compact thoughtfully planned, future growth area with efficient utility infrastructure.
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Conversely, the proposed Brynn Grey annexation agreement provides none of those qualities. There is no guarantee when or if the retail commercial business suggested in the annexation agreement will become reality. Therefore, until that happens, there will be no new revenue source to pay for the extension of city utilities and services.
The development will create suburban sprawl, resulting in greater congestion on our roadways and costly, expansive infrastructure. While the annexation agreement discusses affordable lots and housing units, the language is vague and ambiguous. There are no performance or construction bonds required and no timetable for any construction.
The annexation agreement allows a minuscule financial contribution from the Brynn Grey developers towards city water and utility services. The only guarantee from this Brynn Grey annexation agreement is profits for the developers and expense to our city. Please vote against the Brynn Grey annexation agreement.
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