City Council FYI: Property Tax — then and now
For Steamboat Pilot & Today
“No more taxes. I already pay too much to the city,” was the beginning of a conversation with a community member a week ago. And, several weeks before that, I was having a similar conversation with another resident who echoed the same sentiment.
For all of us, who recently reviewed our annual property tax bill, please check it out one more time. Look closely, the property taxes paid are broken down as follows: Routt County, East Routt Regional Library, Steamboat Springs School District, Colorado Mountain College Steamboat Springs, Steamboat Springs Cemetery, Colorado River Water Conservation, Upper Yampa Water and the Yampa Valley Housing Authority. Note, there is a line for city of Steamboat Springs, but there is a 0.00000 attached to it. The city of Steamboat Springs does not have a property tax. Yahoo. No property tax going to the city.
A little history: the city had a property tax until 1978. There were about 5,000 full-time residents and about 800,000 skier days — then the major source of sales and sales taxes.* At that time, the community basically said we would let our tourists pay our way.
In 2005, the Tax Policy Advisory Board summary advised “when coupled with the fact that more than half of the sales tax is paid by visitors and non-residents, there are obvious advantages to keeping the sales tax as the city’s main source of revenue.”
Seven years later, the board could not come to consensus on recommending continuation of the sales tax based structure or looking into a property tax.
Based on the 2017 American Community Survey, we have 9,868 total housing units with 4,830 occupied year-round, leaving approximately half the units as seasonal, recreational, occasional use or never used units. Is there a way for those property owners to contribute more towards our core services? One of the few ways to equalize this is through a property tax.
Fast forward to today. We, as a community, continue to ask for top notch amenities over and above the core services in our community (fire, EMS, police, roads, water, etc.) With that, city expenses continue to rise, just like most of our households.
Many say sales tax is regressive and unfair to the residents with lower incomes. Many say we pay too much already. Where is the balance for the core services the city must offer, along with the amenities we all love to have?
How should the city move forward to best serve the community? Council will be continuing this funding conversation on July 9 at our work session when we talk about funding the Steamboat Springs Fire Rescue for the future. I would be interested in hearing what you think.
Robin Crossan is the District I representative for Steamboat Springs City Council.
*2011 TPAB Dissenting Report
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