Breck reluctantly offers support for housing authority ballot issue
BRECKENRIDGE – The Breckenridge Town Council will throw its support – albeit, reluctantly – behind Gordon Ferris in his effort to put an affordable housing question on the November ballot, Mayor Sam Mamula said at a Summit Leadership Forum last week.
Ferris is the director of the Summit Housing Authority (SHA).
“If Silverthorne and the county opt to support it, we will support it,” Mamula said. “We won’t be the initiator. But we would be the follower. You can’t have a housing authority with half the players playing. I don’t know how one community can opt out, especially one that has been as active in affordable housing as we have been.”
Under Ferris’ proposal, 60 percent of the revenue generated by a sales tax increase in each town would be dedicated to projects in that town for three years. After that, the money would be freed up to be moved to a project elsewhere in the county.
An estimated $397,499 could be generated from the sales tax within Breckenridge – and $238,000 of that would be restricted for use in the town, Ferris said.
But feedback Ferris has received recently indicates Breckenridge town officials would be more likely to support a sales tax increase if it were coupled with an impact fee on new development. Colorado law also allows multi-jurisdictional housing authorities to implement impact fees on new development. This can be done only in conjunction with a sales tax or property tax increase.
If an impact fee of $1 per square foot were put in place – and state law limits that to a maximum of $2 per square foot – Ferris estimates $550,000 would be generated in Breckenridge, and $330,000 of that would be restricted to projects within the town. Impact fees, paid by the developer, likely would be passed on to the homebuyer.
“We believe – and pardon our presumption – that the figures are very compelling,” Ferris wrote in a report to Breckenridge council. “Instead of funding affordable housing out of the town general fund, together we can generate money for affordable housing outside the town’s budget and at levels far exceeding the town’s current annual contribution to the Summit Housing Authority.”
If county commissioners decide Monday to support the ballot question, Ferris said it’s possible the sales tax percentage could be reduced and the remaining funds could be made up by an impact fee. The most recent discussions put the sales tax at 7.5 cents on a $100 purchase and a 45-cent per square foot impact fee.
Breckenridge town council members said at the Aug. 13 work session they like certain aspects of the funding plan the Summit Housing Authority director is proposing. But they indicated they might not be ready to give up the power they hold under existing funding agreements.
“I like the way it’s working now,” said Breckenridge Councilmember Dave Hinton. “I don’t want to see money going out of Breckenridge. We can use those dollars right here.”
Others, including Councilmember J.B. Katz, said they thought it possible funds would leave Breckenridge because the town already has done so much to provide affordable housing and because there is so little buildable land left in the Upper Blue Basin.
“It’s frustrating that Breckenridge has done so much to fix its own problems and other jurisdictions have not,” Katz said. “So much of our money will flow out of this area.”
“I’m sorry you have to come and beg each year, but I like the level of control we have now,” said Councilmember Ernie Blake. “I’m not sure that with a multi-jurisdictional agency we’d have the same amount of control.”
“We’re floating balloons to see what would be received more positively,” Ferris said. “I felt the town (Breckenridge) was looking after its own interests. I’d probably do that, too, if I was on the town council. But there is a greater good here.”
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