Steamboat Springs City Council thinks parks and rec tax proposal needs more vetting
Steamboat Springs — The Steamboat Springs City Council on Tuesday told proponents of a parks and recreation property tax to take their plan on the road to gauge what the community thinks of it.
No council member appeared ready to commit to the tax proposal, which would seek to raise more money for the upkeep and maintenance of parks and recreation amenities.
Several council members said the committee behind the tax plan needs to engage community groups and residents to get reaction to the plan and refine it.
“I think it’s ready for prime time,” Council President Walter Magill said. “It’s open for more discussion I think.”
Magill said he had a “hesitant support” for the idea.
Other members had a wide range of other thoughts and opinions on the proposal.
Council members Jason Lacy and Heather Sloop said a tax proposal that would fund only maintenance and operations would be a tough pill for the city to swallow.
Many council members also said the city shouldn’t be considering a potential ballot question that doesn’t take into account the yet-to-be-determined cost of preserving Howelsen Hill.
The committee’s first draft of the tax proposal would seek a new 12.5-mill city property tax that could raise up to $7.9 million annually for parks and recreation maintenance.
But to offset some of the impact on taxpayers, the plan also calls for the forgiveness of $5 million in sales taxes on groceries and utilities in the city.
The parks and recreation department would then be left with about $3 million more in funding each year than it currently receives.
The committee also is recommending that the city form a parks and recreation district to oversee the funding of the city’s parks and recreation amenities.
The council received only one public comment on the proposal from resident Scott Wedel.
Wedel criticized the report from the committee, calling it vague and lacking specific numbers.
He also said he felt the city could come up with the money it needs for parks maintenance if it did not continue running money-losing operations, such as the Howelsen Hill Ski Area.
“Nobody is going to come close to voting for this in its current form,” Wedel said of the proposal for the property tax and a parks and recreation district.
The council also received a letter from a resident who was opposed to a new property tax because it would “place an incredible financial burden on me as a retired person with fixed income…”
The council asked the committee to come back with a report early next year.
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