Yampa Valley Housing Authority, which owns the land under Fish Creek Mobile Home Park, is likely to consider asking voters to approve a property tax increase in November.

Photo by John F. Russell

Yampa Valley Housing Authority, which owns the land under Fish Creek Mobile Home Park, is likely to consider asking voters to approve a property tax increase in November.

Yampa Valley Housing Authority seeks mill levy

Committee to recommend tax proposal to support affordable housing agency

Advertisement

Steamboat Homefinder

Visit SteamboatHomefinder.com for more real estate news.

— The board of directors of the Yampa Valley Housing Authority may be asking the voters of its district to validate its existence in fall with a new property tax that would provide it with a stable funding source.

No decision to seek a property tax has been made, but the board is expected to receive a recommendation to that effect from its Strategic Planning Committee on Feb. 10. The board also has drafted a new strategic plan that includes an exit plan in the event that Steamboat Springs and Routt County ever dissolve the intergovernmental agreement that contains a cost-sharing arrangement for funding the 10-year-old authority. The presumption is that the city would take responsibility for the authority’s assets.

When the city and county created an intergovernmental agreement to fund the fledgling authority in 2003, it was expected it would learn to fly on its own and become fiscally self-supporting within three years. The implication was always a tax. But that has not happened.

Now, the Strategic Planning Committee is making plans to suggest to the board that it go to the voters in November and seek approval of a property tax, probably of less than one mill, to allow it to continue its management of affordable housing projects and a down payment assistance program, among other initiatives.

“What people will want to know is ‘what will it cost me?’ and ‘what will I get for it?’” committee and board member Catherine Carson said Wed­nes­day.

The committee members don’t have the answers to those questions, but they will meet once more Feb. 2 to add more details to their proposal to the board.

Not everyone in the county would be affected by a YVHA property tax — just those who own property within the district’s boundary, roughly that of the Steamboat Springs Fire Pro­tec­tion District minus Milner. Sim­ilar­ly, only voters in the district would cast ballots on a tax question.

Change is coming

Writing the ballot language for a tax question would be much easier in June than it is now. Routt County is completing a two-year property valuation cycle and will send out new valuation notices to taxpayers May 1. Property valuations in the county are the basis for raising taxes. And county officials are bracing for the news that overall valuation could be down 35 percent. Retreating real estate values have generated hundreds of foreclosure filings here and put distressed properties on the market at reduced prices that are becoming affordable.

The authority has had its own issues with the real estate downturn. It is making interest-only payments of about $111,000 annually on $2 million in debt taken on to buy land at U.S. Highway 40 and Routt County Road 129 for a new affordable housing project. It was envisioned to become Elk River Village, but the authority found itself unable to build on the land in the past few years to turn the debt into housing.

Board President Rich Lowe said Wednesday that the Elk River Village debt raises strategic questions.

“Do we want to pay down that debt?” Lowe asked. “Do we want to bank the land for a future project? We could take a conservative approach and say we really need to pay that $2 million off and get that anvil off our backs.”

Retiring the debt might necessitate asking for a bigger tax.

Taxes and property owners

The authority’s contemplation of a new tax question comes four years after it polled its constituents on the question of a sales tax in 2007 during the height of the real estate run-up. That plan did not get a favorable response.

Strategic committee members are optimistic that a property tax will meet with a favorable response.

“It seems a property tax is the fair way to invest in housing,” Carson said. “People who have second homes here are the reason we have a skewed housing market.”

A preliminary spreadsheet prepared by Carson showed that a half-mill of tax applied to the district’s 2009 assessed valuation of $1.13 billion (due to be revised in spring) would generate a little more than $567,000 in revenue. That would result in about $20 of annual taxes on the typical $500,000 home and about $72.50 on $500,000 of commercial property.

Lowe said it’s important to calculate the effect on small businesses.

“If I’m trying to clear 5 percent profit, in order to pay ($72.50 in taxes, I need) $1,450 to make up for that. Depending on your business, it’s not so bad or not so good. But that’s a lot of hamburgers.”

Affordability on the market

The authority’s discussion comes as affordability is returning on its own.

A couple bought a three-bedroom home last week in Oak Creek’s Sierra View subdivision for $92.75 per square foot, at $160,000 for a 1,725-square-foot house. The house last sold in spring 2008 for $440,000.

However, the YVHA takes a variety of approaches to fulfilling its mission of providing work force housing.

YVHA owns and manages rental apartments, condos and more. The authority provides down payment assistance to eight to 12 families a year and, with more funding, would like to work with 20 to 25 buyers a year.

With more funding, it would hire a full-time employee to help clients with their qualification for housing assistance, bumping its families served from 50 a year to more than 200.

Routt County Commissioner Nancy Stahoviak, a member of YVHA’s board and the Strategic Planning Committee, said she is mindful that the business community may not support a property tax for YVHA, in part because the Gallagher Amendment to the Colorado Constitution shifts a disproportionate share of the property tax burden onto owners of commercial and industrial properties. Strategically, she said, the authority should focus its energies in an election campaign on the larger number of voters who own residential property.

“I understand the issues of businesspeople. Gallagher is unfair,” Stahoviak said. “But I don’t think it’s ever going to change because homeowners are the majority, and they won’t vote to change it.”

Carson said it would be important for the authority to establish a campaign committee early to promote the tax measure because state law prevents the authority from doing that itself.

All that remains is to persuade homeowners struggling through a down economy to increase the taxes on their own homes, albeit by a modest amount.

Comments

hereandthere 3 years, 5 months ago

Not a chance. Lets have a vote on disolving the YVHA.

0

kathy foos 3 years, 5 months ago

Not a ghosts chance in hell.Stupid saying isnt it?

0

Scott Wedel 3 years, 5 months ago

A "Give us more money so we can decide how to use it" campaign is going to fail miserably.

It is the height of folly to not have a clear plan for the parcel that has over $100K annual carrying costs before asking for a tax increase.

YVHA also owns two lots in Sierra View which have minimal value considering the sale of the house with superior finishes at well under cost to construct.

People that support the idea of a public housing authority will vote against increase funding of this particular housing authority. People will reject the idea of increasing taxes to support a government agency with however laudable objectives that has been inept in the recent past and has not figured out what to do about those mistakes or even acknowledged that those were mistakes and has changed so that it will never make those mistakes again.

0

Steve Lewis 3 years, 5 months ago

Dissolve YVHA? Let's be a little more thoughtful about this.

Ongoing YVHA programs:

Hillside Village Apartments West End Village Fish Creek Mobile Home Park Fox Creek Village Condominiums Mutual Self Help Housing Program

these are described in detail at: http://www.yvha.org/projects.php

There are other drawbacks to dissolving YVHA: "The presumption is that the city would take responsibility for the authority’s assets." Think about it.

I'm not saying yes or no to the tax question. But let's not oversimplify or dumb down the conversation to the point of ignoring consequences on multiple levels.

0

Steve Lewis 3 years, 5 months ago

Scott, I was writing as you posted. You have already put a lot of thought below yesterday's article and you deserve credit for the depth of that posting.

http://www.steamboattoday.com/news/2011/jan/28/yampa-valley-housing-authority-weigh-property-tax/

Thanks.

0

boater1 3 years, 5 months ago

no way people will vote to subsidice others housing anymore! first time buyers can get a walton village on the cheap these days if they want to own... and not everyone should be owning something. those days are gone. if you feel you special as a first time buyer and deserve more space, buy out in stagecoach. vyha needs to dump that land at 40 & 129, it's a vampire for them. like everyone vyha needs to shrink back to what they can afford! this vote is a complete fail.

0

Fred Duckels 3 years, 5 months ago

In the recent past the valley has been flooded by those with dollar signs in their eyes. Everyone was wheeling and dealing and the interpolators all had the formula figured out. Our social engineers saw that the valley was afloat in money and it was time for these visionariy wannabees to advance themselves. One area they entered was affordable housing and the decisions made would be more aptly described as slapstick. The 40/129 deal would have made Madoff feel guilty. This was distressed property, improperly constructed and the city insisted that no fill leave the property so we have a postage stamp elevated above the grade on 129. This entity promises to do better in the future but "better" is not a very good confidence builder. We have many of those involved with their fingerprints all over this folly, and they have every motive to seek a bailout, but I suggest that they put their forclosure in the paper with everyone else.

0

Scott Wedel 3 years, 5 months ago

Steve, Well, it is not the public that is saying YVHA should be dissolved. It looks like City and County have agreed they will stop funding and thus dissolve YVHA unless the taxpayer fund it directly with a new tax. So apparently those most closely involved with YVHA are willing to dissolve it. In the context of the mistaken land purchases and the ongoing costs of those, it looks to me like both City and County are admitting defeat of dealing with YVHA's mistakes and want the taxpayers to assume responsibility for it.

I am not sure why YVHA would be absorbed by the CIty and not recreated as RALF. The idea of the City acquiring more rental property is terrible.

I can understand County wanting to leave because their next budget could be brutal because they will (finally) be affected by decline in property values and YVHA could easily be lower priority than other needed cuts and affordable housing is not much of a problem outside of SB City limits. So County would rather lay off one fewer deputy than fund YVHA which is mostly a SB City concern anyway and it is hard to argue with that.

But the City's budget has stabilized on sales tax revenues. And if City says it is not worth funding YVHA then why should taxpayers fund YVHA? Certainly, the City has $100K, even $200K of discretionary spending that could be argued is of less important than YVHA. If YHVA's supporters cannot make their argument to the City then why do they think they can make it to the taxpayer?

Overall, I cannot think of a more effective public relations campaign for dissolving YVHA than the County, City and YVHA's plan for a tax hike.

0

cindy constantine 3 years, 5 months ago

I hope you are right, Scott, about the sales tax revenues stabilizing but I am not so optimistic. Talked with any downtown merchants about their sales this month? Pretty abysmal and the ski area numbers are not looking very rosy this season either.

0

Scott Wedel 3 years, 5 months ago

Affordable housing is not a major issue now, but so many have move away due to lack of jobs. But this area had a serious shortage during the boom that was impairing ability of local businesses to provide services. Thus, we were seeing services being provided by out of area businesses. The boom created a surplus of expensive homes, but very few affordable units were built. Maybe some nicer housing built to be more expensive have come down far enough to become affordable (like that Sierra View house), but some affordable older rental housing in SB was converted to expensive housing. I recall seeing over 200 jobs in the classified and less than 20 units listed for rent.

So overall, whenever we get enough of a recovery to add 1,000+ jobs (of the 2,500 or so lost) then affordable housing will be an issue again.

Hopefully, by then we will have learned that housing authorities do not belong in the speculative real estate business.

And I think any independent view of SB's linkage rules of forcing high end developments to jam in a couple of lower cost, but far from affordable units would say that was a disaster that has left such a bitter aftertaste that it hurts the public opinion of all affordable housing programs. It added expenses to developers for so little public good because it failed to provide so few good affordable housing units.

0

Steve Lewis 3 years, 5 months ago

Scott, I have to agree with you on much of your 12:27pm post. Hopefully the Gallagher burden will ease with the new valuations, but we'll see.

And housing is not a major issue now. I disagree with your view of the old policies. There were problems, but the recession obliterated both the demand and the viability too soon to draw certain conclusion. I won't argue the point further. We both know those programs are not going to make a comeback.

To be honest overall, its difficult to align my own pre-2008 convictions on affordable housing with any understanding of the need going forward. The game has changed, we just don't know how much. We are all bearish on real estate demand in the short term. I also doubt the long term will bring much upward pressure on prices.

I will probably support the ballot. I disagreed with YVHA at many turns, but they were missioned by this community's leadership, and I won't turn my back on that. If this were more mils, it would be a harder choice.

0

Fred Duckels 3 years, 5 months ago

One of the stated reasons for the 700 denial was that it would drop property values by adding inventory. One could deduct that the public is not that interested in lower cost housing.

0

1999 3 years, 5 months ago

I agree in YVHA vision...it's just the execution that I have a problem with.

0

sledneck 3 years, 5 months ago

"The political meaning of "affordable housing" is housing that is made more affordable by politicians intervening to create government subsidies, rent control or other gimmicks for which politicians can take credit... Study after study, not only here but in other countries, show that the most affordable housing is where there has been the least government interference with the market--contrary to rhetoric." T Sowell

0

1999 3 years, 5 months ago

sled thats pretty interesting....I think steamboat especially tries to manipulate the real estate market thru politics.

weather bulking up prices to create and "exclusive" ski area to making sure real estate transactions are front page to announcing which real estate broker works where.

sadly real estate has become our go to economic factor. we hear everyday about how we can get the RE markets back to where they were. I for one...hope they never go to there again

we all pay the price for the greed.

0

Scott Wedel 3 years, 5 months ago

Steve, I think the "affordable" units in places like One Steamboat, Victorian and such made a farce of the linkage policy. If someone with your political beliefs is saying "probably support" then it will go down in flames because those with Fred's political beliefs are 100% voting against it and those in the middle are more likely to be "probably not".

The existential issue facing YVHA is that they bet the YVHA on land acquisition and lost. They need to deal with that before asking for a tax.

Fred, I think there were many other issues that were more important in the SB 700 election than the argument that it would decrease property values. First and foremost, SB 700 average cost per lot was not going to be cheap.

0

sledneck 3 years, 5 months ago

Prices (housing or otherwise) do not result from "greed". To treat prices as resulting from greed implies that sellers can set prices where they wish.

Prices are not set by sellers. Prices are not set by buyers. Prices are not set by advertisers, realtors, developers or builders.

Prices are set by the market. And, while the market does not well tolerate foolishness or laziness, it is neither "greedy" nor charitable. "The market is smarter than the smartest of its individual participants."

"The wonder of markets is that they reconcile the choices of myriad individuals." William Easterly

0

Steve Lewis 3 years, 5 months ago

I used "probably support" because today it is the best I can do for for a ballot issue that doesn't exist yet, and has no text to judge. We'll see.

0

Scott Wedel 3 years, 5 months ago

Sledneck, Prices are very much set by buyers and sellers. Selling has an asking price and buyer decides whether or not to make an offer. Seller decides whether or not to accept.

In a large active market of a commodity then a seller a little bit high will not find buyers, but that situation is hardly the local real estate market. There are all sort of transactions that would appear to be putting radically different values on apparently similar properties.

0

Rob Douglas 3 years, 5 months ago

Here's a little reading for our community socialists: http://www.realclearmarkets.com/articles/2011/01/31/successful_innovation_requires_sound_failure_management_98845.html# While the specific point being made by Frezza in this particular column concerns government investment in industry, the larger point applies to all government investment in areas best left to the free market.

0

sledneck 3 years, 5 months ago

Scott, WRONG. Prices are not set by buyers alone or they would be lower. Prices are not set by sellers alone or they would be higher. My point was that "greed" does not cause high prices because buyers are "greedy" too and they want LOW prices.

When buyers and sellers meet they do so at "the market" price. I think I know what it looks like; I have a NASDAQ level II screen where I can see bids and asks comming toghther all day long.

Radically different prices on the "same" items are often simply unexamined differences. Furthermore, the ocean is at "sea level" but it is not always glassy smooth. The waves are how it seeks its level just as price fluctuations and variations are how prices find "market" value.

0

1999 3 years, 5 months ago

sled...I have dealt with RE agents in this town. I tried to sell a house for a year.

I had signed a contract with an agent who insisted that my house stay at an inflated price while other more resonably priced houses sold around me for a year.

The agent REFUSED to come down on price. REFUSED!!!!! his quote was " you think you know more than me about the market?"

sure...I agreed to the price. trusting the agent. when my contract was up I got rid of the agent, lowered the price according to other homes in the area and sold it wirth in a month.

I've seen this exact scenerio play out many many many times accross steamboat.

I wholly believe that our RE agnts "created" our inflated market. yes...people bought and thats how the market survived. But I gaurantee our RE agents had far more to do with the overinflated market than just following trend.

When an agent come to your house and tell you to set this price and stick to it though other houses are selling around you at a lower price?........

That my friend.... is greed.

0

Scott Wedel 3 years, 5 months ago

Rob, You used to be better than that.

That article sets up a straw man (false situation) of government operated businesses and then goes on to argue that is a bad idea.

Well duh, which is why that is not the general method government uses to promote industry. Instead of picking specific companies, government helps an industry by tilting the field in their favor by offering tax breaks to their customers, effectively lowering the price of their products. Government will help pay for the industry's research. The critical part of managing those programs is to be sure the tilting is encouraging business, but not such a complete giveaway that business is operating merely to collect the subsidizes. Such as how electric cars receive subsidizes to be less expensive, but government did not pick a particular company to make a government specified number of cars for the government to sell.

0

Scott Wedel 3 years, 5 months ago

1999, So how did an agent refuse to lower the price to what you wanted? Seems to me that you know enough to not let an agent bully you. And someone working as your agent would seem to have to let you set the price.

Your story could help other people from getting into that situation.

0

rhys jones 3 years, 5 months ago

Did you miss me? I didn't notice we had changed venues.

I spoke out of semi-ignorance earlier; I didn't know YVHA was involved in so many projects. And now I am even MORE suspicious...

Take Fish Creek. When YVHA bought the land years ago, it was ostensibly to offer the residents the opportunity to purchase their own lots. Yet that has not happened; they are no more assured of ownership than ever. So what is the payment on the loan, and how much do they take in every month in rent? Why not give the residents the chance to pay it off, relieving YVHA of the burden? Somebody unbiased needs to put a pencil to the numbers, see what the real story is. All we're hearing is vast generalities.

Similarly with Hillside and all the other properties -- they wouldn't just dry up and blow away, with the dissolution of YVHA. They are producing income, right now.

There may have been a thoughtless purchase of undeveloped property or two, which could hopefully be remedied, or losses at least cut.

I still need to know a lot more before I can form a valid opinion on this question, information which I fear will not be readily forthcoming. I want a better accounting. I'll even DO it; all I ask is expenses. There's a lot of big bucks at stake here, so many we really lose track -- what's an extra 0 here or there. And a lot of money to be made in the cracks. My money. This whole thing stinks.

0

sledneck 3 years, 5 months ago

1999, I certainly understand your frustration. However, as you rightly admit, you could have (and should have) insisted on setting the price for your property wherever you wanted.

I can not make it any more simple than I have... real estate agents did not create or inflate our market. A market is where buyers and sellers meet. Higher prices result from buyers' willing to pay higher prices and from sellers willing to hold out for higher prices.

What troubles me is that so many are willing to blame realtors for the boom and bust of our local market while never stopping to ask how THEY, the property owner, helped cause this. It was YOU, property owner, who paid too much. It was YOU, property owner who held out for top dollar. It was YOU property owner who put all your hopes, dreams and money in one basket because you insisted on believing the fallacy that a tree could grow to the sky! It was YOU, property owner, who borrowed too much $$$ not considering the potential risk. YOUR OWN greed led YOU astray, not the greed of realtors, developers or bankers! And when the "money tree" got struck by lightening you all blame others for your naivete. Typical.

0

Fred Duckels 3 years, 5 months ago

This fiasco is just the latest problem dating way back, by our local governments. Does this stem from a lack of interest in serving, and the resulting bad decisions,is it the result of our left leaning electorate acompanied by social engineering? It seems that we often look for grants to advance rather than facing problems and living within our means. When we are able to further our involvement in recreation it seems that we may be too emotional. Our leaders all want to take the helm of this resort machine and excercise their visionary talents. Mistakes are inevitable as the resort community is looking out for their interests and our leaders turn out to be surrogates. This leaves our officials in the position of lobbyists. Here we have a public/private partnership and the taxpayers end up with bad deals. Just a few thoughts, maybe wacky but why are we facing problems that suddenly become orphans?

0

rhys jones 3 years, 5 months ago

Fred -- You are correct. Churches and government have one thing in common: They start out well-meaning enough, then soon discover how much money they can make doing it.

0

pitpoodle 3 years, 5 months ago

Bring on the ballot question. People are tired of government entities represented by people who can't wait to spend taxpayer dollars but have zero accountability for their actions. A vote will force questions to be asked and answered. I would be surprised if YVHA survives.

0

sledneck 3 years, 5 months ago

Whatever the cost, it's a bargain compared to YVHA.

0

1999 3 years, 5 months ago

scott..I fully admit to allowing a trusted realator with 30 years experience lead me astray.

i signed a contract. check out the stipualtions of real estate contract once you agree to let a certain realator or realestate company sell your house.

i could not wait to get out of the contract and will NEVER use a realator again.

sled.. I take full responsibilty for my ignorance....but when I wanted out of the contract the realator refused......even though I was sitting there telling him how much I wanted out.the business realtionship was not working..... the realator refused. he would still make full commision..

heres my theory....say 10 houses are for sale in SB 2. one realator who represents 9 of those houses can and does inflate those prices....then he is able to say to buyers "this is the market...this is what houses cost in the "disirable neighborhood ". he has 9 of the listings...all under contract....all at inflated prices....can you see how this scenerio works.

look Sled...I blame myself...i really do..I was ignorant and NEVER should have signed a contract. and will never do it again. trust me.... I know how the market works.

Oh..I ended up selling my house myself and was able to save the $$$$$$ that would have gone to a realator. The buyer also did not use a realator and we were able to split the difference that would have gone to the realator. Both familys were VERY happy.

0

sledneck 3 years, 5 months ago

So, in the end you won. Good. That too is how markets work. We see our mistakes sometimes only from the "rearview mirror". Nonetheless, you kept your wits and learned a lesson you will carry forward into your next real estate deal. Excellent.

Hell, I bought some land here a few years ago at the top of the market (cause I'm so smart. hee hee hee). I will be lucky if I only lose 6 figures on that deal. Don't feel like the "lone ranger". Lessons well learned are often very expensive. But I am still a big fan of the free market even after it spanked me really hard. It's the least of the evils.

I have to dissent to your analogy about the one realtor inflating the price of 9 homes. Only the owners of those homes had the power to set their price. Out of those 9 there will be at least one who will "break ranks" and reduce their price. So goes the market.

0

Fred Duckels 3 years, 5 months ago

Concerning the mistakes made on the 40/129 parcel and the Iron Horse fiasco I think that an investigataion is in order. The Iron Horse deal on financing is very strange, rendering sale of the property near impossible. We need to revisit the deals and the circumstances leading up to decisions. We seem to excuse all actions if they meant well. We need accountability in order to move ahead and maybe we need some new rules. We can't afford more of same. An investigation can expose poor judgement and give voters more information. If memory serves me we were anticipating a shortage of bus drivers in the decision making period. Did the need for driver housing become a factor? In any event we have debts that no one seems willing to stand up, and take the bows for. About this time we had experts speak and tell us what we wanted to hear to force everyone onto a bus.

0

Steve Lewis 3 years, 5 months ago

Fred, Do yourself a favor. Look up the board members of YVHA. Its a pretty conservative group. You judge others too much and too often.

0

sledneck 3 years, 5 months ago

Do yourself a favor Steve; look up the word "conservative", in a really real dictionary, and ask yourself how many real, true, honest, actual, really real real "conservatives" would be caught dead serving on the YVHA... ok?

0

John Fielding 3 years, 5 months ago

Highwaystar

Your cynical observation about the one similarity between churches and governments was incomplete. You forget that mandating obedience to their doctrines is another.

.

0

Fred Duckels 3 years, 5 months ago

Steve, A large percentage of residents in the valley have made sizable mistakes in the last decade. I have been through five economc downturns in my memory and I have been a contrarian opposed to much of the conventional wisdom that I see on display. Your defense is that everyone goofed so this AH nightmare is excusable and we should let you continue the same path expecting a better result. I have been a small minority saying that this compassion experiment is foolish. Most of the conversation that I see is much "majoring in minors" and the overall picture and is ignored by those wishing to be associated with "good". It is a rite of passage for aspiring public service folks to pad their resume with "apple pie". It is not attractive for the private sector to solve housing problems when we have competiton from government. We are deep in debt thanks to these white elephants, and the sad part is that someone is going to have to pay, guess who?

0

pitpoodle 3 years, 5 months ago

It's me. I'm paying, Fred. I do not want to pay more. NO SBS property tax to support more stupid stuff.

0

Fred Duckels 3 years, 5 months ago

Pit, I think that this vote is plan A, I suspect that the city and county and you and I will be the payor of last resort.

0

Requires free registration

Posting comments requires a free account and verification.