Headline: SHA to present sales tax proposal to leadership forum | SummitDaily.com

Headline: SHA to present sales tax proposal to leadership forum

Jane Reuter

SUMMIT COUNTY – A proposed new sales tax to benefit the Summit Housing Authority gets a public airing during a 4:30 p.m. meeting today at the County Commons.

SHA Director Gordon Ferris will present the proposal to the Summit Leadership Forum. The meeting is open to the public.

The housing group is asking for an increase of .15 of 1 percent in the sales tax, an amount that will generate about $1.2 million annually – enough to allow the SHA to continue its current programs and create more affordable housing than it’s now capable of doing.

But local officials said it’s too early in the process for them to give an opinion on the tax.

“Usually, I’m pretty opinionated, and I’m not on this right now,” said Breckenridge Mayor Sam Mamula. “I’d like to get a steady income for the housing authority. I’m just not certain it’s time to go for a tax increase based on the economy right now. People unanimously feel affordable housing is important – they just don’t want to pay for it.”

Breckenridge’s total sales tax is now 7.5 percent. Mamula pointed out merchants don’t actually pay the tax, but collect it.

“But I would assume there’s a threshold where it might affect business,” he said. “I don’t know what that threshold is, but business is generally down in the county right now.”

Silverthorne Mayor Lou DelPiccolo said the demands from nonprofits are growing.

“The problem is there are more and more taxes that are being asked for, and more and more cutbacks being implemented by the feds, state and so forth,” he said. “So we’re clearly in a situation that leaves a lot of good organizations strapped for funds. We are clearly not going to be able to satisfy everyone that comes forth. That’s always been the case, but people will be asking for more, and we’ll be able to give less.”

The SHA now is funded by the county, towns and ski areas, with the authority picking up the remainder of the tab. That joint funding agreement ends with this calendar year.

A Colorado House Bill passed this year enables multi-jurisdictional housing authorities to access revenue streams, such as sales tax. While the SHA partners with several jurisdictions on its funding and many of its projects, it is not a multi-jurisdictional housing authority. It’s working to become that way.

That means asking the local town councils and county commissioners to participate in a multi-jurisdictional authority, which the SHA will do this summer. If town and county officials agree to jump on the bandwagon, the SHA can ask voters for tax revenue.

“We’ve had discussions with everybody, and don’t know of anybody that has said they don’t want to participate,” Ferris said.

Ferris said the concept of alternative funding is nothing new.

“We didn’t just pull this out of left field,” he said. “This is a culmination of a three-year directive that we find ways to get independent of our current funding structure. We’ve gone before the Summit Leadership Forum at least twice a year and updated them on how we were trying to become independent, and this is just a part of that continuum”

Ferris will review the results of a poll commissioned by the housing authority he said shows support for the sales tax.

Jane Reuter can be reached at 668-3998, ext. 229, or by e-mail at jreuter@summitdaily.com

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