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Council hammers out budget

Many local groups see city funding drop; museum gets boost

Christine Metz

— The Steamboat Springs City Council decided to give the Chamber Resort Association contribution a $50,000 boost, but most community groups did not see their city funding increase as the council held a steady line during Tuesday’s budget retreat.

The council also agreed to fund the Tread of Pioneers Museum to the tune of $35,000, which reinstated the $15,000 it took out of last year’s request. Council said it would also consider giving additional funding this spring for repainting the museum.

In a 5-2 vote, the council approved to bump its contribution to the Chamber Resort Association from $620,000 to $670,000. The extra $50,000 would support two new programs, special event programming and economic gardening.

The majority of council members said the increase to the chamber budget was a way to raise more revenue and in turn more in sales taxes. Money to market and attract visitors to Steamboat is a much-needed contribution, they said, in a time of economic decline.

“Our No. 1 guiding responsibility is to make sure we preserve and protect the revenue coming into the city. We better look at how we raise the food that is going to feed us,” Council President Kathy Connell said. “This is not about bringing in more tourists. It is about sustaining (what we have). You have to look at the return on the dollar.”

From the city’s allocation, the chamber proposed to spend $470,000 on non-ski season marketing, $100,000 on airline investment, $75,000 on special event development and $25,000 on entrepreneurial and small-business development.

Council members Steve Ivancie and Arianthe Stettner voted against the $50,000 increase. Ivancie had trouble supporting the increase when city departments were cutting their budgets by 2 percent.

“Everybody else has to cut back quite a bit. I could support funding to last year’s level,” Ivancie said.

Without an increase in the overall budget, Stettner asked where that money would come from.

In what City Manager Paul Hughes called the most difficult task the council faces at budget time, the community support allocation had requests from 21 different organizations and city-sponsored events with $1.1 million to split among them.

The council sponsored no new organizations and kept funding to 2002 levels or less with the exception of the chamber and museum. The council also approved to spend $17,867 more than last year on community support, which will come out of the $6.5 million the city holds in reserves.

With tears in her eyes, Museum Director Marty Woodbury came before the council to request a $30,000 increase in funding for the museum. After a turbulent year where the museum said its doors might close and Woodbury proposing to take an unpaid three-month leave of absence to keep the museum afloat, the city stated the museum’s importance in the community.

“Once the past is lost, it is gone forever,” Ivancie said. “Steamboat owes so much to the past.”


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