Steamboat Springs awaiting $2.8M from federal government
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — The city of Steamboat Springs is expecting to receive about $2.8 million from the American Rescue Plan, a $1.9 trillion economic stimulus package signed by President Joe Biden earlier in March.
While the city still has not received its funding, Steamboat City Manager Gary Suiter said it will be a welcome relief for the city.
“They’re relief funds: We’ve been struggling, we’ve had things happen and we’ve had employees that have had to sacrifice a lot,” Suiter said.
The city has had to dip into its reserves and was forced to furlough many of its employees early in the COVID-19 pandemic.
Steamboat Springs City Council will ultimately decide how the relief money will be spent and is set to discuss the matter at its April 13 work session, but Suiter said he will make several suggestions as to where he believes the money should go. He said replenishing city reserves is his first priority and restoring employee salaries is the second.
“Let’s show some appreciation for the sacrifices that the employees of the city made,” Suiter said.
Suiter and Deputy City Manager Tom Leeson said the city also has several buildings that need improvements, which federal funding could be used for.
“The challenge will be balancing immediate needs and desires with long-term fiscal sustainability,” Suiter said. “We need to rebuild our financial reserves and make sure our reserves are healthy.”
Of the most immediate needs, Suiter and Leeson said city buildings are a close third behind employee salaries, as 114 of the city’s 131 structures are more than 20 years old.
“Twenty years in a structure or building’s life is kind of a key milestone,” Leeson said. “That’s when you really need to start fixing up systems.”
Leeson said the city has projected an overall deferred maintenance cost of $3.5 million, with a goal of spending $870,000 a year on these projects.
“Every year that we’re spending less than they’re recommending, we get further and further behind on where we need to be,” Leeson said. “There are maintenance projects that should have been done in previous years that have yet to be done.”
The city is starting to see impacts of older buildings needing upkeep, such as repairing the exterior cement outside the Steamboat Springs Community Center.
“It’s not any one particular really large project, but it’s a lot of small- to medium-sized projects that add up over time,” Leeson said.
Due to an unexpected failure, Suiter said the city’s facilities department is working to replace a rooftop HVAC unit at the Community Center and an emergency repair of a unit heater at the Blue Sage Pumphouse. Heating upgrades are being planned to increase redundancy at the building, Suiter added.`
Keeping up on routine maintenance, with the assistance of federal funds, could prevent the city from needing to complete emergency repairs, Suiter said.
“We need to enhance our infrastructure now if we have deferred maintenance or deteriorating systems,” Suiter said.
To reach Alison Berg, call 970-871-4229 or email aberg@SteamboatPilot.com.
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