Who lives at Brown Ranch will be important to assess costs, revenues from the development

Annexation committee starts tackling fiscal impacts of the development this week

A rendering of the Yampa Valley housing Authority's Brown Ranch looking east toward the rest of Steamboat Springs.
Yampa Valley Housing Authority/Courtesy image

Who will eventually live at Brown Ranch will be an important factor when calculating the impacts of the development on Steamboat Springs’ general fund, both in terms of costs and potential revenues.

Through annexation meetings, some services like road maintenance, snow plowing and transit have shown they will require investments to expand services that are already stretched thin, both up front and over time.

For example, the city would need to add a sixth plow route when Brown Ranch starts delivering units at the end of 2026, which has an initial cost of $846,000 and annual operating costs just over $800,000. That alone would be a 13% increase to the city’s streets budget, according to Public Works Director Jon Snyder.

But, the Brown Ranch will add revenue to the general fund as well, though that can be difficult to quantify as the city largely relies on sales tax revenue to pay for services. The expectation is that many residents at Brown Ranch will move from elsewhere in Steamboat, which doesn’t necessarily add to sales tax revenues.

“The same is true about people who are de-doubling from households, and we talk about that being a really serious issue,” said Yampa Valley Housing Authority Executive Director Jason Peasley at the organization’s board meeting on Thursday, March 9. “From a sales tax revenue generation (standpoint) it doesn’t make a difference, because they are already living in Steamboat.”

The Brown Ranch Annexation Committee will start the conversation about the fiscal impacts of the Brown Ranch on Wednesday, March 15. Peasley said this presentation will include a model of who is likely to move to the development as it builds out and what impact they have on revenues.

While someone moving from within Steamboat may not add to revenues, someone relocating from Hayden or Craig would likely have a positive impact on the general fund. In some cases, people will also move in to units elsewhere in Steamboat vacated by someone moving to Brown Ranch, which could also increase revenues.

“Maybe it’s somebody who is moving from outside the Routt County area into the community to take jobs that we have that are open and vacant or newly created,” Peasley said. “All of those different individual scenarios have impacts on the revenue generation.”

Peasley said a consultant has been working on the fiscal impact model by assessing five areas of the city’s general fund by looking at the five biggest expense areas: transit, streets, fire, police and parks. The goal is to assess what these services are costing the city today and what the cost is to expand them to Brown Ranch.

Currently, the model relies on various assumptions, like the cost for services per lane mile added or acre of park land developed. Peasley said city staff has been and would continue to be involved in calculating these assumptions.  

Housing authority board member Kathi Meyer, who also sits on the annexation committee, said the fiscal discussion will also need to consider what other factors adding workforce-focused housing to Steamboat will do for the general fund.

Meyer said after the last annexation meeting she was walking on Lincoln Avenue and a retail store was closed around noon with a sign in the door noting it was because they couldn’t find staff.

“We don’t have the workers… this affects the city’s sales tax, that store is not open,” Meyer said. “We as a community have to look at a broader scope in terms of what are the costs in the community. This isn’t just about what do we want to be when we grow up — this is about today.”

The first of at least two fiscally-focused annexation meetings will start at 9 a.m. on Wednesday in Centennial Hall.

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