Summit County government proposes 2023 budget that pushes $20 million toward affordable housing projects
The Summit Board of County Commissioners will have less money to work with next year, according to 2023 budget discussions that began Tuesday.
The county currently has $60.2 million available within the general fund, about three million less than 2022’s budget, which came in around $63 million. Finance Director for Summit County government, David Reynolds, said last year’s spike was attributed to funds received from the American Rescue Plan Act.
The budget will not be finalized until the end of November, but the fiscal position of the county is ready to be analyzed for the rest of the budgeting season, which will last for the next two months.
One of the largest expenditures in next year’s budget will be the 2023 affordable housing funds allocation, which is currently projected to be $20 million.
The top three most expensive projects for 2023 will include allocations for: the Colorado Mountain College Campus housing project in partnership with the Town of Breckenridge at $6 million; the U.S. Forest Service workforce housing and Highway 6 roundabout projects in partnership with Dillon at $4.1 million; and the Centura Health housing partnership at $3 million.
More funding will go toward various projects like Phase 2 of Wintergreen affordable housing development in Keystone, hotel conversions to workforce housing like the purchase of the Lodge Hotel in Breckenridge, Lake Hill workforce housing entitlements and the Lease to Locals incentive program to turn short-term rentals into long-term rentals.
“I’ve always said that budgets tell stories and really focus on priorities,” Summit County Commissioner Josh Blanchard said. “If that’s true, then the No. 1 priority in our 2023 budget is housing and how we dedicated not only the county’s housing fund but also some general fund dollars just for housing initiatives for next year.”
Blanchard added that he was proud of next year’s project diversity and town partnership.
“This really allows the county to leverage our limited funds with other public and private funds to help meet those housing goals,” Blanchard said.
The Strong Futures’ budget will also bring some brick-and-mortar projects in the new year. The county will use funds that have been building since the program’s inception in 2018.
The Strong Futures’ ballot measure was approved by voters in 2018 to create funding for childhood care, behavioral health programs, fire mitigation, recycling and public infrastructure around Summit County. By the beginning of 2022, the fund had accrued about $39 million, according to past reporting.
In previous years, county budgets forecast a $5.8 million decrease in Strong Future funds in 2022. A $1.9 million decrease is predicted for 2023. This will leave about $2.5 million left in reserves, according to Reynolds.
This year, Strong Future funds will support library branch expansions, a new search and rescue building and the Silverthorne Childcare Authority. Predictions show that the library branch expansions will cost roughly $3.4 million, the search and rescue building will cost about $7.9 million and the Silverthorne Childcare Authority assistance will cost about $8.3 million.
“We’ve been working on all the soft costs that go into doing buildings of this type, the planning and permitting and all of that, and now we’re actually ready to do construction,” Reynolds said. “It’s like saving up for your house for three years.”
Breaking down the budget
The largest portion of the budget, roughly 37.9%, comes from property taxes, totaling about $22.81 million. The second largest portion comes from sales and other taxes at 21.8%, which amounts to about $13.16 million. The third largest portion comes from charges for services, making up 17.5% or $10.54 million of the budget.
Both property tax and sales tax revenues made changes from 2022 to 2023. Property tax revenue decreased about 1%, and sales tax revenue increased about 5% in a year-to-year comparison.
Though property taxes only decreased by 1%, Reynolds said the difference was mainly due to assessment rate changes in Senate Bill 21. The rate at which the county collected property tax changed from 7.15% to 6.8%, which led to a decrease in the budget.
Reynolds added that the budget is not yet final. The $60.2 million is set to be shifted around and altered for the next few months until the final budget adoption at the beginning of December.
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