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  • Dylan Anderson

Steamboat Ballot Measure 2F – repurposing Steamboat’s accommodations tax, explained

Voters are asked to change how revenues from Steamboat's 1% Accommodations Tax can be spent, extending that to cover maintenance of amenities built with tax revenues.

Ballot measure 2F harkens back to a 1986 ballot measure passed by Steamboat voters to put an accommodations tax on all lodging in Steamboat, charging a 1% tax on all stays in both hotels and short-term rentals.

The initial ballot question said this money was to be used to fund the “development of improvements and amenities in Steamboat Springs which will promote tourism and enhance the vitality of Steamboat Springs as a premiere destination resort, and enhance the community identity, environmental desirability and economic health of Steamboat Springs.”

That meant the city could use the tax to build new amenities, but it could not use the tax revenue for the maintenance of those amenities, which adds pressure to the larger Parks and Recreation Department budget.

The last time this tax was repurposed was in 2013 with the 2A for Trails ballot question. That was approved by voters in a wide 71% to 29% margin and allocated accommodations tax dollars to build trials over a 10 year period, make improvements on Yampa Street and Haymaker Golf Course and to do some marketing for these amenities. Still, this question did not give the city authority to spend accommodation tax dollars on maintenance.

The new ballot question is being considered now because the 2013 question sunsets this year and the parameters for how to spend this money would revert to the 1986 ballot language. The shape of the question was largely motivated by Council’s desire to use this accommodations tax funding to pay for maintenance at existing amenities. The question explicitly spells that out, allowing maintenance on these amenities to be paid for with accommodations tax dollars.

Ballot measure 2F is not about the tax itself and does nothing to change the rate or what types of stays it applies to. As written in 1986, the tax itself does not have a sunset and the ballot question does not ponder putting one in place.

That means, if voters were to say ‘no’ to measure 2F, the 1% accommodations tax would remain in place and could be spent using parameters from the original 1986 language.

A ‘yes’ vote updates the parameters to allow this money to be spent on the maintenance of these amenities (even ones built without using the tax) and the construction of new amenities.

In 2022, the accommodations tax raised just shy of $2 million, which was up about 25% from the year before. Through August of this year, the accommodations tax has raised just over $1.5 million, which is a roughly 4% increase over the same period in 2022.

Full Ballot Question:

Without increasing taxes, shall the City of Steamboat Springs, upon the expiration of the 2013 ballot question 2A, allocate revenues from the Public Accommodations Tax approved by the voters in 1986 to be used for the following purposes: to fund development and maintenance of improvements and amenities in Steamboat Springs that will enhance the community identity, environmental sustainability and economic health of Steamboat Springs; to acquire real property for parks, recreation and open space purposes; and to preserve the City’s natural resources?

Vote yes or no.


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