Yampa Valley Housing Authority panel details tax increase recommendations | SteamboatToday.com

Yampa Valley Housing Authority panel details tax increase recommendations

Committee to suggest adding 0.55 mills to property tax

— A committee of the Yampa Valley Housing Authority affirmed plans Thursday to recommend asking voters in Nov­ember to approve a new property tax.

The suggested 0.55 mills of tax would support the authority's operations, including advising families struggling to find affordable rental apartments and homes to own as well as managing existing deed-restricted condos and a mobile home park. The authority's board is expected to consider the tax Feb. 10.

YVHA Manager Mary Alice Page-Allen said the need to support affordable housing initiatives in the community has not gone away in the midst of a struggling economy and local real estate market.

"We're serving 1,400 families a year," she said. "We have a huge waiting list for rentals, and rental rates here are still $500 a bedroom."

The proposed mill levy would increase the taxes on a $500,000 home by $21.89 annually and bump the taxes on a $1 million commercial property (which is taxed at a higher rate) by $145.

The tax, applicable only to property owners within the authority's district — generally Steamboat Springs and surrounding rural areas minus unincorporated Milner — is estimated to raise about $395,000 under the newly revised property valuations in the district. As proposed, the tax would end after five to seven years, committee member and Routt County Commissioner Nancy Stahoviak confirmed.

Research from committee member Catherine Carson and County Assessor Gary Peterson concludes, based on property classifications and ZIP codes of owners, that 55.8 percent of the district's assessed valuation can be attributed to second homes.

The recommended 0.55 mills of tax also would provide $50,000 annually toward land acquisition and operations, but not construction costs, for the local Habitat for Humanity. The committee also will recommend to its board that the new tax be used to wean YVHA off a combined $168,000 in funding from the city of Steamboat and Routt County.

"We'll have a strong relationship with the city and county if we're no longer asking for money," Carson said.

Government fund­ing combined with management fees for existing housing projects help bring the authority's budgeted revenues for 2011 to $272,800.

Page-Allen gave committee members a detailed five-year budget plan Thursday. It shows 2011 payroll, including benefits, of $75,900. With the hiring of an additional housing specialist in 2012, payroll could grow to $131,900.

The tax would tentatively boost annual revenues to almost $490,000, according to Page-Allen. That would create room to set aside about $200,000 annually to build a capital reserve for future projects.

However, at least initially, some of the $200,000 would likely be used to pay down $2 million in debt on an undeveloped parcel of land on the city's west side that is viewed as a future site for development of affordable rental apartments or other housing. The land, burdened with an interest-only loan, costs the authority about $111,000 annually to carry.

Carson consulted Peterson to develop spreadsheets that show that 0.55 mills of tax would generate $394,663 based on the district's new approximate assessed property valuation of $717,568,490. The valuation is down from the 2009 valuation of $1.3 billion because of lower-priced comparable sales since 2008.