Hayden sees building permit activity decline
April 3, 2011
By the numbers
Hayden building permits
Year: Permits* — Valuation
2006: 54 — $12,566,069.00
2007: 108 — $13,189,099.16
2008: 68 — $7,151,774.74
2009: 28 — $462,776.40
2010: 27 — $1,328,165.52
2011 (through March 4): 1 — $3,319.91
*Includes single-family, multifamily, duplex, commercial, industrial, demolition, additions or alterations, and sub permits including electric, plumbing and mechanical.
Source: Routt County Building Department and SAFEbuilt Inc.
Hayden's decline in building permits is apparent, but it does not affect the small community as it does others in Routt County, Town Manager David Torgler said.
The valuation of permits issued in Hayden has dropped from a high of more than $13 million in 2007 to about $1.3 million in 2010. This year, Hayden has had just one permit, worth $3,319.91 for a furnace replacement, as of March 4, the most recent figures available.
By comparison, the valuation of Steamboat Springs building permits peaked in 2008, at more than $259 million — 78 percent of the county total of nearly $334 million — and declined to just less than $25 million last year. The value of Steamboat permits through February this year totaled about $635,000.
"Clearly we're in a big slowdown like everyone else," Torgler said. "Because of the way we're structured, we contract out many of the services related to development, the impact is less."
Torgler said because Hayden pays SAFEbuilt, which it contracted with in 2008 to serve as the town's building department, for permits and inspection services, less construction means fewer fees paid out. However, Torgler said, because of the construction slowdown, Hayden is seeing less revenue from a 2 percent use tax on construction and building materials.
Hayden Finance Director Lisa Dowling said the use tax, which became effective Jan. 1, 2008, has decreased from $60,370 that year to about $20,500 in 2010. She said Hayden budgeted $20,000 in use tax revenue for 2011.
Torgler added that fewer permits also means savings because there is less work for the town's planner and engineer, both positions Hayden contracts.
Fewer permits and less construction does, however, negatively affect Hayden's economic development program, Torgler said. He said the community is trying to become sustainable.
"That's why we've been working with real estate developers to increase the head count in Hayden," he said. "The higher the population, the more people to shop at the restaurants, stores and bars. That helps those businesses be sustainable. It's an ongoing process. Not having the units constructed has an impact on our economic development program."
He said the town also is maintaining infrastructure in areas where it expected to have buildings, such as the nearly empty Lake Village subdivision.
As Torgler noted, the stark decrease in building permit valuation isn't taking place only in Hayden.
Routt County Regional Building Department official Carl Dunham said the county's permit valuations exceeded $100 million every year from 1998 to the peak in 2008: Steamboat had five years during that period in excess of $100 million. But he said last year's county total dropped to more than $55 million, the lowest since 1993.
"I hate to say things like this, but we may never see that level of construction in the foreseeable future," Dunham said. "There's just not money available, from what I'm hearing anyway."
Dunham said January and February were slow. He said permitting typically picks up in May, when 16 to 17 percent of the year's activity occurs.
The same is true for Hayden, which sees a spike in permits when the snow starts to melt in late March and early April, said Charlie Davis, a SAFEbuilt building official who works with Hayden. He too doesn't expect Hayden's permit valuation to reach 2007 levels, but said he was optimistic about 2011 exceeding last year's total.
Davis said he met with local developers last week who intend to submit applications as early as next week. He said things are starting to pick up.
"It's encouraging to me because it's local developers or contractors looking at it instead of guys from outside the area," he said.
— To reach Jack Weinstein, call 970-871-4203 or email jweinstein@SteamboatToday.com