Process to get STR tax on ballot will move quickly

First reading tentatively set for end of June

A tax on short-term rentals in Steamboat Springs will need to move quickly to get on the November ballot. A first reading is tentatively set for June 20.
John F. Russell/Steamboat Pilot & Today

The process to get a short-term rental tax on the November ballot for Steamboat Springs voters will need to move quickly with a second reading of such a measure needing to be approved by the end of July.

“It’s going to be fast,” Steamboat Council Member Michael Buccino said during the Yampa Valley Housing Authority Board meeting on Thursday, May 12. “We need everyone to be attentive.”

On Tuesday, May 10, council members signaled their support for a tax on short-term rentals that would garner funding for Brown Ranch, and council directed city staff to bring back proposed ballot language for consideration on a first reading. Council is also juggling other short-term rental policy decisions in the coming weeks.

During the meeting, council member Heather Sloop said city officials are trying to focus two upcoming meetings on those policies, and a first reading on the STR tax could come soon after that. Agendas for these meetings haven’t been set yet.

City Finance Director Kim Weber said the plan is to have a first reading on June 20. Depending on how that meeting goes, a second reading could come as soon as July 5. That plan still needs to be approved by council.

Election Day is Nov. 8. To get a short-term rental tax question on the ballot, the city needs to notify the Routt County Clerk and Recorder that the city intends to participate in the election by July 29, sign an agreement to conduct the election by Aug. 30 and then certify the ballot language by Sept. 9.

The tight timeline will likely prevent voters from being asked a question about bonding for infrastructure at the Brown Ranch this year. That wasn’t necessarily seen as a problem, though, because more work is needed to produce better cost estimates, which would be necessary to ask such a question.

“That will be an evolving conversation, and it is okay to take it in incremental steps,” said Jason Peasley, executive director of the housing authority. “That’s going to be a future conversation for this board, so we can talk a little bit more about the nature of funding needs.”

More time also will allow housing authority staff to get a better handle on what grant funding is available, Peasley said.

Also, council members still need to decide what level the tax will ultimately be, but a majority said they could support something between 7% and 10% on Tuesday.

Revenue generated by the tax would need to be used to support attainable housing, but Sloop said that the language wouldn’t mention Brown Ranch specifically. Sloop also said she believed a short-term rental tax had a “very high probability of passing.”

Buccino said that he stressed at the Steamboat Springs Chamber board meeting on Thursday morning that council is looking for more feedback on the tax.

Asking voters to support the tax would allow the community to show its support for the Brown Ranch project, which has been made possible by an anonymous donor, Buccino said, referencing the individual who gave the housing authority $23 million to buy the 536-acre property this summer.

“The donor made this thing happen,” Buccino said. “This is the bigger step. Because of them doing that, it allows us to really reach out and the community gets to buy into this as well, and they do that with their vote.”

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Steamboat and Routt County make the Steamboat Pilot & Today’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.