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Downtown improvement plan returns to Steamboat Springs City Council

If you go

What: Steamboat Springs City Council revisits downtown improvement district

When: 5 p.m., Tuesday, March 3, near the top of the agenda

Where: Citizens’ Meeting Room, Centennial Hall, 124 10th St., Steamboat Springs

— Steamboat Springs City Council is expected Tuesday night to dig into the details of what might be accomplished through a multi-million dollar downtown renewal project and how much each piece of the plan might cost, as well as how to fund it.

Improving public facilities in the downtown, and particularly on Yampa Street where it runs parallel to the river of the same name, represents a project that generations of city officials have visualized over three decades. In the modern time frame, it’s something that has been on City Council’s plate since 2012.

Council asked city staffers during its Jan. 20 meeting to return this week with additional research as council members wrestled with the question of whether or not to fund public improvements in the downtown through a tax incremental financing (TIF) program that could continue for 25 years but would likely end after the targeted improvements are complete.



In January, the city anticipated a TIF would capture an additional increment of $10.2 million in sales tax, and it was proposed the property tax increment from other entities, including Routt County and the Steamboat Springs School District, be capped at $2.4 million.

If you go

What: Steamboat Springs City Council revisits downtown improvement district



When: 5 p.m., Tuesday, March 3, near the top of the agenda

Where: Citizens’ Meeting Room, Centennial Hall, 124 10th St., Steamboat Springs

Planning Director Tyler Gibbs will present a new estimate of the overall capital cost of accomplishing the improvements – $9.8 million instead of $12-plus million. The difference is attributable to optimism that some of the projects have a strong chance of qualifying for grants.

“We’re looking at every resource we can come up with for grants for urban improvements,” Gibbs said. “Some gutters and sidewalks and some storm water (infrastructure) – some of those things we’ve pulled out,” of the TIF.

One of the answers City Council sought in January was how much maintenance on new public improvements would add to what the city already spends on maintaining public improvements in the downtown area. Gibbs is expected to tell them tonight that they are currently spending $150,000 to $170,000 annually to maintain things like pedestrian and intersection lighting, tree care, trash and recycling. The new improvements are likely to add another $100,000 to $140,000 in maintenance costs, he said.

“We’ve got a lot of detail,” Gibbs said Monday about the report he will preent to City Council. “Casey Earp (assistant to City Manager Deb Hinsvark), Ben Beall (city engineer) and I have gone block by block through downtown comparing existing conditions to the 2007 street design guidelines looking for gaps in sidewalks and missing streetscape like pedestrian lighting and trees.

“We’ve also looked carefully at where sidewalks can be routed around existing trees and at places where there are mature trees on private property,” Gibbs added. “We wouldn’t replace mature trees in a mountain town with young trees.”

City Council can also expect to hear Gibbs and Earp discuss other funding options including certificates of deposit (the method the city used 15 years ago to build Centennial Hall) and general obligation bonds.

The proposed rationale behind pursuing the TIF route is that those other taxing entities would be given assurances of being “held harmless” and would benefit over the long run from a broader property tax base if expectations come true that public investment would inspire new private sector investment.

Finally, Tuesday night, city staff is expected to ask City Council if they believe the projects they’ve described represent the preferred list of downtown improvement, and if so, what funding source the council wants to use to accomplish them.

Options include directing staff to move forward with a particular form of funding for downtown improvements, abandoning the project, putting the capital projects identified for downtown back into the routine process for listing and choosing capital projects in the annual budget cycles or asking staff to pursue an abbreviated list of downtown projects.

If City Council directed staff to pursue a TIF, the city would provide 30-day public notice of a necessary hearing on an enabling ordinance.

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205, email tross@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ThomasSRoss1


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