Scott Bideau: URA frustrations
As a member of the Steamboat Springs School Board, I’ve had an opportunity to publicly express my personal frustrations with the proposed downtown Urban Renewal Authority and its impact on school funding. I’d also like to point out two significant concerns I have as an individual citizen of our community.
First, state statute requires that an area be determined as slum, blighted or a combination of the two before undertaking a URA. A blight study is completed and then city council determines whether these conditions indeed exist. Most of our City Council members have questioned the existence of actual blight, saying things like:
“There’s an issue with the blight study.”
“The blight study, to me, is ridiculous.”
Yet many of these same council members continue to push the URA after publicly acknowledging that the area might not meet the statutory requirements that would allow for such an authority. The council member who called the report “ridiculous” also said, “If you don’t have an area of blight, you’re done.” By this definition — shouldn’t we be done?
Second, council initially claimed that funding the business improvement district for maintenance of the improvements was a prerequisite to the URA. Council members made strong statements like:
“The BID (passing) will be an indicator as to whether we move forward or not.”
The mountain URA “was formed, a BID was not, and now the city is stuck with the maintenance. I’m not in favor of that at all. Those stakeholders truly need to show us that they’re engaged.”
The September motion to continue URA discussions even included an explicit requirement that the BID be approved, saying:
“I move to continue the URA structure discussions …with a requirement that the BID is approved.”
When asked to clarify that requirement, the motioning council member responded very clearly:
“As a matter of fact, if the BID votes goes negative, then I said that’s when we stop.”
The BID funding vote failed on Nov. 4. By council’s clear motion shouldn’t we stop?
This letter isn’t questioning whether downtown improvements are needed. This letter is questioning whether certain City Council members are adhering to state statute, to council policies and to their individual promises.
(Although I am a member of the Steamboat Springs School Board, my opinions are my own and may not be those shared by my fellow board members)
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While warm days and nights are fueling strong flows in the Yampa River through Steamboat Springs, the pace of runoff is expected to dip this week.