Voters approve Summit Combined Housing Authority sales tax for another 20 years

The affordable housing measure will now sunset in 2047

Smith Ranch in Silverthorne is pictured May 14, 2020. The affordable housing development in Silverthorne has already received some funding from the 0.6% sales tax measure approved in 2016, and with the passage of the 20-year renewal, the town plans to spend the majority of funds on finishing this project.
Liz Copan/For the Summit Daily News

The shortage of affordable housing in Summit County has been felt by virtually every sector of the community, which is why the Summit Combined Housing Authority put its 0.6% 20-year sales tax measure on the ballot six years before it’s set to sunset.

Summit County voters approved the tax’s extension on Election Day, meaning instead of it sunsetting in 2027, it’ll now go through 2047.

Rob Murphy, executive director of the housing authority, said he’s happy to see the continued support of the community.

“It’s exciting, and it’s encouraging, too,” Murphy said. “The fact that voters continue to support affordable housing tax measures shows what kind of community we have in Summit and the level of understanding of our housing issues. It’s pretty rare to have a tax like this. I think other communities are envious of the support we have among voters for this kind of thing. It’s really nice to see that voters repeatedly come out in favor of these affordable tax measures.”

Results show that about 71% of voters, or 6,383 ballots, were in favor of the measure. About 2,613 ballots, or 29% of voters, were against the measure. As of 11:05 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 2, 8,996 ballots had been counted for the 6B question.

When the measure was originally added to the ballot, Murphy said a 20-year extension was key for the county and towns to have designated funding for housing projects.

“Twenty years is an important number because that is sort of a threshold at which the jurisdictions can potentially bond against future taxes, which would give them the opportunity to borrow money more quickly that would help fund projects now and in the next several years,” Murphy said in September. “The extension itself is really important, but that number — that 20 years — was chosen for a specific reason.”

With the passing of this measure, Summit County Commissioner Tamara Pogue said she was glad voters saw the high-level need in the community and chose to act.

“I’m so grateful to Summit County voters for continuing to recognize how important our local working families are to the success of our community,” Pogue said. “Having 6B continue so that we can leverage bonds and other types of funding for affordable housing will make an even greater impact for our community and will certainly help us move the needle on the workforce and affordable housing crisis we have in Summit County.”

Summit County Commissioner Elisabeth Lawrence agreed that the passing of this measure is one step in the right direction of getting more affordable units up and running for the workforce and that its extension means the towns and county can dig in to launch some projects on standby.

“It’s going to allow all of us to do some long-term strategic planning,” Lawrence said.

So far, the 5A measure, which was originally passed in 2016, has accrued a total of $47 million collectively between the county and towns.

The town of Dillon has spent some of its money on its Summit County Road 51 workforce housing project in collaboration with Summit County and the U.S. Forest Service. The town of Silverthorne has spent most of its money on the Smith Ranch workforce housing development. The town of Breckenridge has spent some of its money on its Blue 52 townhomes and Alta Verde apartments. The town of Frisco spent some of its money on its Mary Ruth Place project and a housing coordinator position. Summit County has spent some of its money on Huron Landing and Dillon Valley Vistas.

Some of the projects that will likely get funding in the future include:

  • Dillon’s Summit County Road 51 workforce housing project
  • The build-out of Silverthorne’s Smith Ranch workforce housing development
  • Further development of Breckenridge’s Alta Verde and Block 11 apartments
  • Frisco’s 619 Granite St. housing development
  • Summit County’s Lake Hill development and additional master leases of hotels
Ballot language

Without raising any additional taxes, authorizing a 20-year extension of the existing six-tenths of 1% workforce and affordable housing sales tax and limiting vendor fees without raising any additional taxes. Shall the existing Summit Combined Housing Authority levy be extended for 20 years for affordable housing purposes including the construction of workforce rental and owner-occupied housing units through an extension of the existing six-tenths of 1% (0.6%) sales tax commencing in 2027, and shall section 6(F) of the sales tax resolution No. 2016-02 be amended to limit the maximum vendor fee collected by vendors to a reasonable amount to be established by the authority, and shall the levy be collected and spent as a voter-approved revenue change without limitation or condition under Article X, Section 20 of the Colorado Constitution or any other law?

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