Cities address housing issues

Communities may form multijurisdictional authority

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— Four communities have expressed an interest in talking with Routt County and Steamboat Springs officials about forming a multijurisdictional housing authority.

When Steamboat and county officials sit down for a meeting sometime next month, officials from Yampa, Oak Creek, Hayden and Craig are expected to be at the table.

Each of the communities have expressed an interest in participating in the initial discussions of creating a housing authority, which could result in a new entity being created to make decisions about taxation and housing policy.

"The more inclusionary we can be, the better off we are," said Kathy Connell, Steamboat Springs City Council president.

Routt County Manager Tom Sullivan plans to set up a meeting within a month for officials to discuss forming the authority. Officials from the Regional Affordable Living Foundation will also be invited to participate.

The Two Plus Housing Committee brought the idea of a possible county housing authority to the attention of city and county officials in January.

The committee, which is made up of an equal number of proponents and opponents of the failed 2000 city excise tax for affordable housing, has made several recommendations to city and county officials.

The first step in addressing the committee's recommendations is to create a multijurisdictional housing authority that could issue tax-exempt bonds and levy taxes.

If the authority were created, it could replace the Regional Affordable Living Foundation as the advocate for affordable housing in the Yampa Valley.

The difference between a housing authority and RALF is the authority would be able to levy taxes, issue tax-exempt revenue bonds and condemn land.

In February, city and county officials pitched the idea to Yampa, Oak Creek and Hayden officials.

Although Oak Creek, Yampa and Hayden officials have concerns about the authority, these communities have agreed to participate in the initial discussions.

Each of the communities has notified the county and a decision whether to join the housing authority is pending.

Residents and officials from these communities outside Steamboat Springs have expressed concern that affordable housing could result in low-income housing in their communities.

If an authority is created, the Two Plus Housing Committee is in favor of residents voting on two issues in November.

One issue would be an impact fee, which would result in a $1 charge imposed on every square foot of new construction.

The second issue would be a

1 mill property tax increase that would be levied within the authority's boundary.

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