Board debates home funding

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— Members of the Yampa Valley Housing Authority's board of directors remain unsure about whether to ask voters to provide a dedicated source of funding for affordable housing in the region.

The board held a special meeting Wednesday to discuss consulting voters in November, but board members were unable to reach consensus.

Since its inception, the Hous-

ing Authority has relied on money from Steamboat Springs and Routt County to fund its projects. In 2004, each entity gave $35,000; in 2005, $50,000; and in 2006, $60,000.

When the city and the county came together to form the Housing Authority -- which is a separate governmental entity -- the two groups agreed to provide funding for it through 2006.

During the Housing Author-

ity's April board meeting, members agreed to request another $60,000 from Steamboat's and Routt County's 2007 budgets, board member and Routt County Commissioner Nancy Stahoviak said.

The Housing Authority is in a difficult situation because of the original funding agreement made by the city and county, Housing Authority board member John Spezia said.

"We're put in a box," he said.

The Housing Authority needs to put a funding question before voters in November, board member Bud Romberg said.

"I think that we are obligated because of the way that we started ... so I think we need to go for something," said Romberg, who advocates a 1-mill property tax.

According to state statute, there are three options for dedicated funding sources: a sales tax of 1 percent or less; a property tax of 5 mills or less; or an impact fee of $2 or less per square foot. An impact fee charges a dollar amount for every square foot of new construction. If the Housing Authority pursues an impact fee, it also must have a tax.

All three of the options require a vote by the residents who live within the Housing Authority's boundaries. To get the issue on the November ballot, officials must notify the Routt County Clerk and Recorder's Office by July 28.

The Housing Authority may not have enough time to launch the voter education effort that would be needed for a ballot question to be approved, board member Tony Seaver said.

"I just don't see how that can be done," Seaver said.

The board could talk about getting on the ballot for five years and be no more prepared than they are now, Stahoviak said. She thinks voters will look favorably upon a ballot question that would support affordable housing.

"Affordable housing is the key issue in this community," Stahoviak said. She said she favors a sales tax but is concerned about taxing food and utilities.

Board president Kathi Meyer said she learned a few things when a former affordable housing group went to the voters for money.

"You don't throw something together at the last minute because of some deadlines and dates," Meyer said. She also said it's important to involve the people who are affected by the ballot question.

And, the Housing Authority should limit how much money it requests, Meyer said.

"Don't be a pig," she said.

-- To reach Dana Strongin, call 871-4229

or e-mail dstrongin@steamboatpilot.com.

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