Housing wants limits lifted | SteamboatToday.com

Housing wants limits lifted

— One thing has become clear to Kathi Meyer since the Yampa Valley Housing Authority was formed in November 2003.

“We’ve come to understand that, in order to create affordable housing, you need land. And in order to buy land, you need money,” Meyer said.

It’s an issue Meyer says voters can have an effect on when they cast ballots Nov. 1. Routt County Referendum 5C would exempt the housing authority from the Taxpayers Bill of Rights, or TABOR. Exempting the agency from TABOR would remove limits on how much funding the authority can raise. The housing authority is not a taxing entity but seeks and accepts funding from taxing entities.

“If we have no restrictions, the Yampa Valley Housing Authority will have a better chance of accomplishing its mission of creating affordable housing opportunities for the workers and residents of the Yampa Valley,” Meyer said

Meyer is a member of the Affordable Housing Coalition and Issues Committee, which is campaigning for the adoption of referendum 5C. She also is the president of the board of the Yampa Valley Housing Authority.

Because of TABOR, the housing authority must work under a restricted budget that was created based on the group’s 2004 budget, adjusted for population growth and increased cost of living.

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If approved, the measure would allow the housing authority to keep any unexpected grant and gift funds it did not budget for the previous year. The change also would allow the housing authority to retain reserves.

It would amend a portion of TABOR, which was approved by Colorado voters in 1992. TABOR limits revenue growth of state and local governments and requires voters to approve any tax increase for state and local governments.

Meyer said approval of 5C would not increase or add any new taxes but would allow the authority to keep the money it has raised. It also would allow the group to more aggressively pursue grants and private donations.

If the ballot question does not pass, Meyer said, the group likely would return some of the money it raises to donors and agencies.

Meyer said she wants to make sure voters don’t confuse the local ballot question with Referendum C, which proposes to relax temporarily the constraints on spending put in place by TABOR. It would allow the state to keep revenues it collects above TABOR limits in the next five years.

Meyer fears that because the referendums deal with similar issues, voters in the valley could confuse them. “They are totally separate,” Meyer said. “One is a statewide issue dealing with governments, this is a local issue dealing with affordable housing.”