City of Steamboat Springs considering fee system to pay for stormwater upgrades |

City of Steamboat Springs considering fee system to pay for stormwater upgrades

Proposal depends on results of ongoing infrastructure study

Scott Franz

Water runs down a culvert Friday near the intersection of Lincoln Avenue and Seventh Street. Depending on the results of an ongoing study of the city's stormwater system, Steamboat residents as soon as next year could start to pay a new fee to fund upgrades to the system.

— Steamboat Springs property owners as soon as next year could be assessed a new fee to pay for necessary improvements to the city’s stormwater system.

Interim City Manager Deb Hinsvark said Thursday that the scope of the fee, or whether it will be assessed at all, will depend on the results of a $180,000 infrastructure study of Steamboat’s bridges, culverts and dams that is expected to be completed by the end of this year.

"It’s going to depend on how much (the study shows) we need to spend" on improving the stormwater infrastructure, Hinsvark said.

The city’s stormwater system became a topic of discussion this year when the Steamboat Springs City Council started to tackle its 2013 budget.

When deciding how conservatively to budget for next year, some council members mentioned the upgrades, which city officials indicated at the time could cost untold millions of dollars in the coming years, as a reason to continue building up reserve funds.

Hinsvark said the city has not identified a revenue stream for the improvements, but they likely would be phased throughout several years.

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She added that she didn’t think reserve funds would be an appropriate revenue stream to pay for the stormwater upgrades.

"We shouldn’t use reserves for something that has an infinite life, because reserves are very finite," she said.

The city currently is proposing to use about $10 million of its reserve fund to pay for the construction of a new public safety campus in west Steamboat.

Hinsvark said the 2013 budget includes two major stormwater projects downtown that total about $220,000.

She added that she doesn’t expect a new fee system to be proposed until 2013 at the earliest.

"This is what happens with cities as they grow," Hinsvark said, noting development in recent years made the recent infrastructure study necessary. "We will look at multiple funding options, but this fee is usually the most logical nexus."

If a fee system is implemented, Steamboat would join several other growing Colorado municipalities that already charge residents a monthly bill to help pay for their own infrastructure upgrades.

A March 2011 study conducted for the city of Greeley by AMEC engineering showed residents in 30 Front Range municipalities from Lakewood to Fort Collins typically were paying between $1.98 per month to $14.26 per month for stormwater infrastructure. Fort Collins represented the high end of the spectrum.

"It’s the way a majority of cities pay for these upgrades," Hinsvark said.

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210 or email