Housing Authority passes resolution supporting STR tax effort | SteamboatToday.com

Housing Authority passes resolution supporting STR tax effort

Jason Peasley, executive director of the Yampa Valley Housing Authority, talks with U.S. Sen. John Hickenlooper, D-Colorado, prior to a round table discussion about affordable housing issues on Wednesday, April 20, at the Brown Ranch west of Steamboat Springs. The ranch was purchased by the authority last August, and plans are to build 2,300 units there by 2040.
John F. Russell/Steamboat Pilot & Today

The Yampa Valley Housing Authority Board unanimously approved a resolution in support of a 9% tax on short-term rentals that Steamboat Springs City Council has placed on November’s ballot.

Prior to passing the resolution on Thursday, Sept. 8, Steamboat Springs City Council member Heather Sloop said she wanted to emphasize that revenue from the proposed tax is not just a blank check for the housing authority’s Brown Ranch project.

“This is more of a holistic approach to affordable housing and not just one project,” said Sloop, who is also a member of the housing authority board. “We need to have the thing passed first, and then we decide what infrastructure needs are needed, if there’s some sort of grant processes that are needed (and) how that money gets allocated every year.”

The ballot question that Steamboat voters will see in November does not say the money is solely for Brown Ranch, though the project is directly invoked.

The 9% figure council is proposing is also in part based on an estimate of $10 million a year that Housing Authority Executive Director Jason Peasley told council will likely be needed for infrastructure at Brown Ranch, though not all that is on the housing authority to build.

“The majority of that infrastructure will be beneficial to all affordable housing projects in the future,” Sloop said. “Obviously, Brown (Ranch) wants $10 million a year, but there’s no guarantees.”

The resolution approved Thursday is one of the limited things the housing authority can do to officially support the tax. Board President Cole Hewitt cautioned board members from doing more in their official capacity with the housing authority.

“If we are asked in any official capacity where the housing authority stands, this is our public stance,” Hewitt said.

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The resolution includes 15 different “whereas” statements qualifying why the board supports the 9% tax on short-term rentals. These range from definitions about the housing authority’s mission, statistics about the 1,400 units the Steamboat Springs community is currently short and the opportunity the community has to build affordable housing units at the Brown Ranch.

One statement supporting the resolution says the number of moderate income households experiencing housing cost burden has increased by 50% over the last five years. A household is considered housing cost burden when more than 30% of gross income goes toward housing costs.

The resolution also says the roughly 3,000 short-term rentals in Steamboat are one factor limiting the supply of housing for local workers.

“This ballot language that the city put together is an opportunity for the community to have a meaningful investment in affordable and attainable housing,” said board member Catherine Carson, who is on the policy team that drafted the resolution.

Carson added that the tax could also close what some see as a “property tax loophole,” as short-term rentals pay a much lower residential property tax rate than the commercial rate hotels do.

Hewitt emphasized that this is what the board could do to support the tax and that housing authority staff wouldn’t spend any time campaigning for it passing, unless on their own. He encouraged board members get involved with lobbying for or against the tax in an individual capacity if they wanted.

“Individually, outside of your role on the board, I would encourage you to contact the campaign if you are for it, or the campaign if you are against it, and donate your time and money as an individual to those causes,” Hewitt said.  

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