Housing Authority exempt from TABOR

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Voters made it a little easier for the Yampa Valley Housing Authority to pursue its mission by approving Referendum 5C, which exempts the agency from the Taxpayers Bill of Rights.

"The Housing Authority would like to thank the voters of Routt County for their trust," said Kathi Meyer, president of the Yampa Valley Housing Authority "We need the continued support from the community. Our to-do list is huge."

Referendum 5C asked voters to remove the revenue limits set in TABOR, which limits a government agency's public revenues to the amount the agency received the year before, plus an adjustment for inflation and population growth.

The Housing Authority is not a taxing entity, but it seeks and accepts funding from taxing entities such as the city of Steamboat Springs and Routt County. It also receives publicly funded grants.

Voters in Routt County overwhelmingly supported the de-Brucing measure for the Housing Authority.

Without it, supporters of Referendum 5C said the Housing Authority would have been constrained by the amount of funding it was able to secure in the previous year and would lack the flexibility necessary to pursue affordable housing projects in the valley.

In the past five years, the Housing Authority and its predecessor, the nonprofit Regional Affordable Living Foundation, have added about 140 affordable housing units in Routt County. The projects include 34 units in West End Village, 21 self-help housing units in Steamboat, Hayden and Oak Creek, 30 units in Fox Creek, and 55 apartments in Hillside Village. Three hundred people signed up for a chance at purchasing one of the 30 Fox Creek units.

In the past, the Housing Authority relied on grants and funding from the city and county. In 2004, the agency's first year, it received state Energy and Mineral Impact grants totaling $160,000. This year, the authority's total funding is $120,000 -- $60,000 from the city and $60,000 from the county.

Energy Impact grants and city and county dollars are public funds subject to the rules of TABOR. The approval of 5C means the agency will not be limited in the amount of money it can accept from taxing entities and will be able to pursue any state and federal grants that are available.

"Solving the affordable housing challenge here is still going to take a great deal of effort and finical support from both the public and private sector," Meyer said.

-- To reach John F. Russell, call 871-4209

or e-mail jrussell@steamboatpilot.com

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