Steamboat voters approve city’s 1st property tax in 40 years | SteamboatToday.com

Steamboat voters approve city’s 1st property tax in 40 years

Voters approve ballot measure 2A to fund fire and emergency services

The Mountain Fire Station is home to Steamboat Springs Fire Rescue. The department is looking at building a new fire station and expanding its staff.
John F. Russell

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — As of Tuesday, Steamboat Springs was one of only six municipalities in Colorado that doesn’t levy a property tax. Starting in 2020, that’s no longer the case.

Ballot measure 2A passed, earning 2,882 “yes” votes to 1,831 “no” votes with an estimated 125 to 150 ballots remaining county-wide to be counted once signatures and other ballot issues are cured. It will levy a 2-mill property tax on properties in city limits to fund fire and emergency services. While other entities levy property taxes on buildings in city limits, the city hasn’t been the beneficiary of a property tax since 1978.

“I want to thank the voters of Steamboat for trusting us, and now, it’s up to City Council to deliver on the promises,” said city council member Kathi Meyer, who led the campaign in support of the measure. “I think — when we put a reasonable proposal in front of them — we have very smart voters.”

Under a 2-mill property tax, homeowners will pay an annual tax of about $15 per $100,000 of actual valuation. Commercial property owners will pay $58 per $100,000 of actual valuation under the proposed tax.

Revenue from the 2-mill property tax is forecast to generate $1.4 million to $1.5 million in annual revenue.

With the tax in place, Steamboat Springs Fire Rescue plans to use the revenue to add three full-time positions that are both firefighters and emergency management technicians. The city’s 2020 budget will be adjusted to allocate those revenues in the upcoming budget discussion at the Tuesday, Nov. 19, Steamboat Springs City Council meeting, according to City Finance Manager Kim Weber 

This fire department pursued increased funding for staff to cope with the increase in calls, particularly calls to respond to multiple emergencies at the same time.

Steamboat Springs Fire Rescue’s most recent strategic plan calls for 20 additional full-time equivalent staff members and the addition of a new fire station near downtown Steamboat by 2025. The department is expected to increase current staffing from eight people per shift to 10.

Under this plan, the cost to operate the department is projected to rise from $4.5 million this year to $7 million in 2025. This 2-mill tax would prioritize the funding of operating costs, not the projected $12 million cost of building a new fire station.

When asked about the projected shortfall between what the department is requesting and what this property tax will generate, Meyer said now the City Council “will get to have that discussion in public.”

“We know we have a need. We have lots of needs, but for me, funding core services is absolutely paramount,” she said. “Now, we get to talk about how we phase in the expansion of staff and the addition of another fire station.”

To reach Eleanor Hasenbeck, call 970-871-4210, email ehasenbeck@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @elHasenbeck.


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