Yampa Valley Housing Authority won’t seek property tax
Poor economy, lack of support cause board members to drop ballot question
July 14, 2011
Steamboat Springs — The Yampa Valley Housing Authority voted today to abandon a ballot question asking voters to approve a property tax that would have raised about $395,000 annually for the organization.
The board voted 7-0, with four members absent, to not move forward with the proposal and said that a poor economic climate and a lack of community support for the tax caused them to drop the ballot issue.
"The economy has not started to turn around at the rate we thought it would when we first discussed the ballot issue," board member Catherine Carson said. "That makes it difficult for it to pass."
The board voted in January to seek the property tax, which the Housing Authority said would have made it less reliant on payments from the city and county, who together provided $168,000 to the group this fiscal year.
Carson said the Housing Authority also needed to identify a solution for its undeveloped Elk River Village property and its related debt before pursuing additional revenue. Board members have previously said that their proposed property tax would not be used to cover the debt from the property in West Steamboat Springs.
The Housing Authority bought the land near U.S. Highway 40 and Routt County Road 129 in 2006 and makes payments annually of about $110,000 to cover the interest on a $2 million loan. The village was approved as a private-sector neighborhood of small, single-family homes.
Housing Authority Asset/Program Manager Mary Alice Page-Allen said it was time to get the property off YVHA's balance sheet.
At her recommendation, the board agreed to reduce the property's listing price from $2.03 million to $1.5 million, the value of its most recent appraisal, and advertise it as a short sale.
"We're not going to close the door on anything," she said. "But I would hate to see this go in a direction where it ends up being a black eye for our organization."
Carson said any reasonable offer for the property should be seriously considered.
"The challenge is that this is a good piece of property. It is a very viable piece of property," she said. "However, you have to have deep pockets to hold onto an asset, and we do not have deep pockets."
After voting to abandon the property tax proposal, board members discussed the need to strengthen their presence in the community over the next year by better communicating YVHA's services to the public.
"We're going to continue to be looking to the city and the county to assist us," Page-Allen said. "It's clear we need to work on our communication with the community."
At today's meeting, board members voted to commit to an informational campaign about affordable housing and how the organization serves the Yampa Valley.
"We've done a lot on a very small budget, and one thing we found when we were gauging support for the property tax is that the community has not realized this," Carson said. "We have not as a board shared our available services and accomplishments with the public so that even supporters of a tax increase realize what we do."
Pilot & Today reporter Tom Ross contributed to this story.
— To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210 or email ScottFranz@SteamboatToday.com