Steamboat City Council moves forward on property tax, unveils list of needs for funding

Graphic by Bryce Martin

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Steamboat Springs City Council will proceed with a 2-mill property tax and directed City Attorney Dan Foote to write up a ballot question for vote in November.

Council is still deciding exactly where the revenue from the new property tax will be earmarked, but council members expressed support for one of three areas: police and fire, parks and recreation or central governmental services, such as snowplowing.

In addition to a property tax, council members directed City Manager Gary Suiter to research a timeshare tax, and they agreed to hold a future work session on the subject. Council members also said they would like to move forward on a lodging tax where money would go straight to the Steamboat Springs Chamber for its destination marketing.

“To me, it makes sense to put lodging dollars toward marketing; that’s how other communities do it,” said Council President Jason Lacy. “It’s a logical nexus, and it’s a way that the community doesn’t have to pay for it — it’s paid for by visitors.”

Suiter said using a lodging tax to help fund the Chamber seemed like the obvious choice.

“It’s not just an all-out marketing campaign,” Suiter said Wednesday. “It’s a more holistic approach to marketing your destination and preserving those things that people come here and want to see and do.”

Some council members also suggested repurposing the 2A Trails accommodations tax, passed specifically to help build trails in the city, to help support the city’s general fund or another specific purpose outside of trails.

“Repurposing the 2A funds, to me, is a no-brainer,” said council member Lisel Petis. “It won’t actually be detrimental to the community, because they’re already paying that tax.”

Other council members said they believed the 2A funds should continue being used to build trails, specifically to expand the Yampa River Core Trail to the west end of town.

“I’m not as happy repurposing the 2A funds,” said council member Robin Crossan. “I would prefer for the community to benefit from the tourists that come here, and that 2A money could build the Core Trail west of town.”

As for where money is needed, Suiter and City Finance Director Kim Weber presented council with a long list of needs that included maintaining city buildings, purchasing land, building new facilities, paving roads and supporting transportation.

Most notably, Suiter and Weber said money is needed to maintain and increase employee salaries, as Steamboat’s cost of living continues to rise.

“If we don’t pay our employees well, we lose them to other resort communities or to the Front Range,” Suiter said.

Some council members said they felt strongly money should be used for parks and recreation, as the city’s community survey showed residents strongly valued city trails and parks.

“The community would have a greater feel if the money would be allocated to something they feel they would utilize and have a direct nexus to,” said council member Heather Sloop. “I think the reality is that it needs to be something the community can get behind, and I don’t know if they can as easily get behind something that just said general services or police and fire.”

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