Steamboat Springs As the Regional Affordable Living Foundation moves closer to a November ballot issue, the group will help the city of Steamboat Springs develop an affordable housing policy.
RALF director Rob Dick appeared before the City Council on Tuesday at the city's request to address the creation of a policy that would send a message of commitment to affordable housing.
City Council members started the policy discussion by agreeing that affordable housing is an essential part of the success of the community. Several council members clarified that although they support affordable housing, the city shouldn't be in the landlord business.
"I have no problem saying this is an essential part of our infrastructure. However, we don't necessarily fund all parts of our infrastructure," council member Arianthtettner said.
The council also clarified that the community involves more than the city.
Potential policies offered by RALF include encouraging the creation of a broad range of developments that preserve a sense of the community and its socioeconomic diversity. Another policy would encourage the reduction of regulations that impede affordable housing and another would identify opportunities for land acquisition.
While RALF works on an affordable housing policy for the city to consider, the group is also making decisions about an initiative that Dick said will be on the ballot this fall. He said it will most likely be an impact fee or excise tax on new development.
The measure would tax a dollar amount per square footage of new commercial and residential construction, excluding smaller affordable homes of approximately 1,200 square feet. The funds would be used to secure a bond issue to buy land and perhaps mortgages of affordable homes.
Dick said RALF is no longer considering a head tax and the group is no longer partnering with First Impressions to share tax revenue with a child-care issue.
Dick said any money raised by the proposed tax will leverage money to buy land for affordable housing.
"If we could generate a pool of $10 to $15 million, we could solve the affordable housing issue in this community for at least the next 10 years," Dick said.
Dick said the city and the county may be asked to lend full faith and credit or moral obligation to sell the bond issue.
The county has the ability to impose an impact fee, but Dick said it wouldn't be a consistent revenue stream because it would be dependent on construction. That's where the obligation from the city or county comes in and that would require voter approval, Dick said.
The county would then have to prove that new construction impacts affordable housing. Dick said a recent study in Grand County showed that new development impacts housing at $12 a square foot and it chose to levy a tax of $3 a square foot.
RALF's Board of Directors meets on Thursday to discuss the ballot initiative further.
To reach Michelle Bales call 871-4208 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org