Proponents of downtown tax are optimistic heading into Election Day
Steamboat Springs — After countless hours of knocking on doors and making phone calls, the leaders of the effort to secure more marketing and maintenance dollars for downtown Steamboat Springs through an additional property tax said they are optimistic about their chances heading into Election Day.
“Some of the reason I am guardedly optimistic is the town has changed so much since the last time we had this (tax question) go out to the voters,” said Bill Moser, board president for the downtown business improvement district, or BID, that is seeking funding after a similar effort to fund it failed here in 2007.
Moser, who owns a commercial property management firm on Oak Street, said he’s more optimistic this election cycle because of the addition of new mixed-use buildings.
He added that he feels attitudes about an additional property tax downtown have changed.
“All I can say is we have our fingers crossed,” Moser said.
BID board Vice President Bill Hamil, who owns Steamboat Meat & Seafood Co. on Yampa Street, also said he’s optimistic the measure will pass.
He said conversations he’s been having with other property owners nearby have been positive about the tax proposal.
Sometime after 7 p.m. Tuesday, everyone will learn whether commercial property owners in the downtown BID will pay an extra property tax worth 4 mills that could be spent on things like wayfinding signage, trash and recycling collection and parking management.
On Monday morning, 131 ballots had been returned in the special election, and 316 had been requested.
It is estimated there are more than 500 commercial property owners and tenants downtown who are eligible to vote in the election.
Eligible voters have until 7 p.m. to return their ballots to Mainstreet Steamboat Springs Manager Tracy Barnett in the Sequoia building at 141 Ninth St.
Ballots can be requested up until that deadline.
Barnett said she feels it’s a “toss-up” whether or not the proposal passes.
Proponents of the tax measure compare it to a business investment that will allow all of downtown to better control its destiny.
Barnett has said that with other mountain communities recovering from the recession faster than Steamboat is, this city’s downtown corridor needs more funding to make improvements and catch up.
Critics of the tax proposal question whether the funding would be distributed equitably among three diverse downtown streets. The tax also would raise the rents of some downtown office tenants.
The proposal would net an estimated $190,000 in its first year.
If the measure passes, Barnett said the current BID board will meet later this month to decide how the money should be spent in the first year.
The board, which has representation from Lincoln Avenue and Yampa and Oak streets, will use input from downtown stakeholders and the results of a recent survey to decide how the money should be spent.
If the measure fails, some proponents of the measure, including Barnett, said they doubt a tax would be pursued again in the coming years after failing twice.
“We would talk about that after the election to figure out what we do for more funding,” Barnett said.
Moser said the latest push for downtown funding has “been quite a ride.”
“We’ll take our serious faces off no matter what happens,” Moser said. “We had a real concerted effort to get out the vote and explain it, and for all these reasons, it brought us a lot closer together.”
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