Petition launched to give residents control over city’s urban renewal decisions
Steamboat Springs — A committee of Steamboat Springs residents wants to give the public more control over the city’s urban renewal decisions.
If the committee gathers enough signatures on a petition it is currently circulating, voters here would be asked Nov. 3 whether they want to amend the city’s charter to require citizen approval of any future urban renewal plans that use tax increment financing to fund projects.
Currently, urban renewal decisions are made by the city council.
The petition was launched by Chuck McConnell, a retired chemical engineer and a former candidate for the Colorado House of Representatives, and four other community members.
“I’m going to have to say the response I have had so far has been very enthusiastic,” McConnell said Tuesday, adding the petition is being circulated by a dozen community members.
The Steamboat Springs City Council is currently weighing a downtown urban renewal plan that could use tax increment financing to pay for millions of dollars worth of infrastructure improvements, such as sidewalks and pedestrian lighting.
McConnell and the other organizers of the petition are concerned tax increment financing will negatively impact other taxing entities such as the Steamboat Springs School District and Routt County.
McConnell recently urged the city council to delay its vote on an urban renewal plan — scheduled for June 16 — and let voters decide if they want a say.
If the council moves ahead with the urban renewal plan next week, the potential November ballot measure would not affect it because the plan area would have taken effect prior to an amendment of the city charter.
McConnell hopes to have hundreds of signatures by next Tuesday so he can send a message to the council that voters here would like a say in the urban renewal plan.
“If we get the required 499 signatures, which we will, and it’s on the ballot, and people vote that they want a say over (tax increment financing), I think that’s a powerful message,” McConnell said. “What could be bad about letting the people in the community have their say? What’s there to be afraid of by letting the people vote?”
The other members of the URA petition committee include Tina Kyprios, a financial manager and former county commission candidate, Michael Buccino, an interior designer, Ed MacArthur, of Native Excavating, and Ed Miklus, a former school superintendent from New Jersey.
In March, Littleton voters approved an amendment to their city charter to require voter approval of urban renewal plans, becoming the first city in the state to do so.
The Steamboat Springs City Council will hold a public hearing on the proposed downtown urban renewal plan prior to voting on it.
The meeting begins at 5 p.m. Tuesday in Citizens Hall.
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