Community members: In support of URA, TIF |

Community members: In support of URA, TIF

I am writing to express my support for the downtown URA with TIF financing. I am a strong supporter of our schools and our downtown, and I think this URA will benefit our community as a whole, just as the URA at the base area has.

The URA on the mountain has not caused harm to our school system. In fact, it has made a huge impact on the vitality and functionality of our base area and can be credited with increasing the property and sales tax base within its boundaries, which benefits all of the entities that are supported by these taxes, including the school district.

First, it is important to note that the state of Colorado does not determine funding amounts for school districts based upon the tax revenue generated by a particular district, or whether a district includes a URA funded with TIF financing. All property taxes collected statewide for the public school system go into the same pool of dollars and account for less than half of the total funding that the school districts receive from the state.

Also, it is indisputable that resort communities such as Steamboat Springs contribute significantly more than the state average per enrolled student than other communities in Colorado because they collect disproportionately large amounts from vacation properties, which have high valuations but few enrolled students.

It has been suggested that the use of TIF financing has generally harmed school funding in Colorado because it diverts tax dollars that are collected for education; however, I am afraid that this argument presents only one side of a complex equation.

Ultimately, what these arguments are suggesting is that all of the development and the associated property value gains that have occurred as a result of TIF financing would have happened anyway. Really?

Just looking at our own example at the base area, I simply cannot imagine how those improvements would have been accomplished without the city of Steamboat acting as the URA to oversee the projects and coordinate efforts amongst property owners. As a result of the URA on the mountain, the base area has seen large gains in sales tax revenue, which directly benefits the school district through the 1/2-cent sales tax and also has seen additional property value gains through URA project construction and investment in complementary improvements by adjoining private property owners.

In regard to the “negative factor,” put simply it is a construct of the state legislature, nothing more. Our lawmakers in Denver created this exercise in fuzzy math in order to justify reducing its financial obligations to our schools. One recent letter states that $760 million of the $880 million, or 86 percent of the “negative factor” is attributable to URAs and TIFs.

The problem with the argument is that $760 million number is the total amount of backfill provided by the state over the past 26 years and $880 million is the amount of the “negative factor” in just one year, 2014. So the dollars that have gone to TIF backfill are nowhere close to 86 percent of the cause of the negative factor.

And again, only one side of the equation is presented because there is no calculation included that shows the offsetting creation of tax base that URAs have helped to build.

Dozens of communities across Colorado, and in 49 out of 50 states, have used TIF financing through URAs to leverage future gains in their tax base to stimulate new development and needed community projects. In spite of what some may tell you, you do not have to choose between supporting our schools and supporting the URA.

So let’s stand together and support this vision for improving our downtown.

Jon Quinn, Jim DeFrancia, Rex Brice, Jon Sanders, Tracy Barnett,

Randy Rudasics, Jim Clark,

Sally Testrake, Eric Schneider,

Phil Armstrong, Collin Kelley,

Kim Haggarty, Jeff LaRoche,

Jarett Duty, Peter VanDeCarr,

Linda Cullen, Brian Vaughn

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