Steamboat Springs City Council looking for ideas to spend $1.2M tourism fund
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Think you have a good idea for how the city of Steamboat Springs should spend more than $1 million in excess accommodations tax dollars next year to attract more visitors to the Yampa Valley?
It’s time to start putting pencil to paper.
A committee that is advising the Steamboat Springs City Council on how to spend the money wants the city to start accepting ideas and proposals from the community starting June 1. Applications would be due Aug. 10.
The Accommodations Tax Reserve Committee does not want the city to postpone the project vetting process and wait to save up more money before deciding what to do with it.
Instead, committee members think the city should start building or working on whatever is ultimately picked next year.
The City Council will decide Tuesday night whether to start the application process for the tax money.
Residents won’t be able to just pitch any idea. The project will have to adhere to ballot language approved by voters here in 1986. That means the money, which is generated by a 1 percent tax charged to visitors on their nightly lodging rentals, must be spent on some sort of amenity aimed at attracting more visitors to Steamboat.
The City Council will ultimately decide how to spend the money.
“I’m keeping an open mind, and I’m open to any and all proposals,” Council President Pro-Tem Jason Lacy said last year when the council first started mulling how the money might be spent.
Council members chose to start a public process after some council members entertained a proposal to spend the money on a second sheet of ice at Howelsen Ice Arena. The city anticipates it will have $1.2 million in the bank to spend on a project or amenity at the end of this year.
City voters in 2013 overwhelmingly approved a plan to dedicate most of the lodging tax revenue collected in the city to area trail projects and the creation of the new Workman Park on Yampa Street for the next decade.
Some money also went toward marketing of the new trails and a capital improvement fund at Haymaker Golf Course.
Under the ballot language, any lodging tax revenue above $660,000 collected each year goes into a reserve fund that the council has the discretion to spend, as long as it meets the original ballot language that created the 1 percent tax on overnight stays in the city.
It is this pot of money that the council will decide how to spend.
To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210, email firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @scottfranz10.