Yampa Valley Housing Authority seeks property tax to continue building new units | SteamboatToday.com

Yampa Valley Housing Authority seeks property tax to continue building new units

There's no place like home

The Yampa Valley Housing Authority is seeking a 10-year, one-mill property tax to help it develop more workforce housing like this apartment building.
Scott Franz

The Housing Authority estimates a new, 1 mill property tax would raise $850,000 annually for a period of 10 years, and would use all but $1 million of the $8.5 million  total to leverage the construction of housing in three categories.

The goal is to create:

•350 beds for seasonal workers

•350 low-income housing units

•150 entry-level housing units

Target Demographic:

short term seasonal employees •permanent residents with income up to $35,000 permanent residents with •income between $35K-$75K

It’s hoped the funding will result in 6-8 development projects.

Housing tax funding plan

YVHA proposes to leverage $7.5 million in property tax revenues to acquire $50 million in Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC) and $60,000,000 in private investment with an estimated economic impact of $100 million.

• The tax on homeowners would be $36 annually per $500,000 in residential valuation

• The tax on commercial property owners would be $145 annually per $500,000 in valuation

•Property owners in Hayden, Oak Creek, Stagecoach, Yampa and Clark, would not be subject to the tax. The boundaries of the taxing district comprise Steamboat Springs and close-in unincorporated areas.

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Yampa Valley Housing Authority may have crossed the threshold of a new era in the decades-long discussion about the need to increase community housing in Ski Town U.S.A. But the outcome will ultimately  be decided by the voters in the November election.

Motivated by the findings of the Community Housing Steering Committee report of December 2016, the YVHA board voted Thursday to seek voter permission to collect a 10-year, one-mill property tax within its district, which includes the city of Steamboat Springs and surrounding areas but no other towns.

The estimate is the tax would raise $850,000 in the first year and $8.5 million over 10 years. And by using the tax dollars to leverage private investment, the board is predicting the money will held fund the creation of six to eight housing developments.

The new housing projects would be counted on to help to meet the current shortfall in housing for seasonal workers, low-income households and households ready to move into entry-level homes.

“We need to do something. We need to have an impact,” Catherine Carson told her fellow YVHA board members. “I think this plan, based on our community-wide discussion and focus on solutions, is coming down to making a real difference for our community. I feel positive about this, and one thing I do know is if we don’t try, we’re never going to succeed.”

The 2016 Steering Committee, comprising a broad cross-section of the community and working in smaller groups dedicated to different segments of the housing markets, concluded the community needed to develop 700 diverse new housing units to close the existing gap between housing supply and demand.

YVHA scored a victory in the spring with the opening of The Reserves at Steamboat, which offered 48 income-restricted rental apartments. Federal income tax credits, awarded by the Colorado Housing Finance Authority and sold to a corporate investor, allowed YVHA to partner with a private sector apartment building developer on the new housing, which is fully leased.

Housing the workforce

Routt County Commissioner Doug Monger, who also serves on the YVHA Board, moved to approve the ballot language for the mill levy and took the opportunity to point out to his fellow members that should it pass, they must be prepared to raise their game.

“It will be imperative for this board to make sure we’re annually looking at what we’re doing good and bad and analyze whether we’re making headway with this community investment or not,” Monger said.

YVHA Board President Roger Ashton agreed, saying that in a new era when YVHA is collecting taxes, there may need to be organizational changes to provide more transparency and more accountability for the taxpayers.

The only board member to vote no on taking the tax question to the voters was Dillon Fulcher, who said that while he generally approved of the ballot question, he felt the board had not left itself enough time to fully engage and educate voters.

“I think it’s (potentially) more harmful to the Authority to have this shut down and have to try again,” Fulcher said in explaining his “no” vote. “I don’t think we have the time to have the outreach to get out the vote.”

Board member John St. Pierre also expressed some concern, saying that in his experience new tax measures don’t succeed until the second or third time they are put before voters.

However, YVHA attorneyBob Weiss reminded the board members that in Routt County, property tax questions aimed at conserving ranch lands, building a new library, supporting people with developmental disabilities and funding history museums all passed on the first try.

“I’ve been involved in about a dozen of these … and what I’ve learned is, none of these happen by themselves,” Weiss said. “Don’t take the position that the community will understand this. It has to be a concerted, energetic campaign effort for there to be any chance at all. There has to be real commitment. It’s politics, and it’s a lot of work.”

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205, email tross@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ThomasSRoss1.

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