Summit County voters award governments $8M in annual housing dollars
Approval of a countywide tax increase by voters on Tuesday night means Summit County and each of its incorporated towns now have the financial resources needed to build housing for the local workforce over the next decade.
Citizens backed ballot question 5A by better than 57 percent with more than 15,600 votes counted. As a result, the new fee — an additional 6 cents for every $10 purchase (with the exception of groceries) — goes into effect Jan. 1 and is expected to produce upwards of an $8-million reserve in its first year. That purse will be distributed proportionally based on each jurisdiction’s tax revenues.
“This brings us, I’d say, one step closer to helping provide the needed resources to allow people to live and work in Summit County,” said Commissioner Dan Gibbs. “Seeing the support coming forward is really important to finance these projects that are really expensive.”
Ratification by Summit County voters makes the third time in 11 years they’ve consented to an election tax hike in the form of a 5A question. Officially, the funding measure is proposed through the Summit Combined Housing Authority, an entity comprised of the county and its six towns: Breckenridge, Dillon, Frisco, Silverthorne, Blue River and Montezuma. Citizens first agreed to green light a smaller increase in 2006, a chunk of which funds a portion of the housing authority’s operating budget, following that up with a renewal of the capital reserve last November.
A study released this fall confirmed the county is in the midst of an ongoing housing crisis, requiring nearly 1,700 new units established by the end of 2020 to meet growing demand. The 2013 version of the analysis offered a similar verdict, and acquisition of land and construction of affordable housing has shifted to the priority project for most local governmental bodies.
With its estimated annual haul of about $1.6 million, the county would spend toward installing infrastructure and vertical construction of its Lake Hill property northeast of Frisco for more than 430 units over the next 10 years. The county finalized the purchase of the 45-acre parcel from the U.S. Forest Service in December for $1.75 million in an uncommon land deal that required President Obama’s signature.
In Breckenridge, it would mean the build out of its Block 11 parcel for as many as 350 combined rental and market-rate units, and of its 128-acre McCain Property for about 100 units.
In Silverthorne, it should mean development of its 52-acre Smith Ranch property south of the Raven Golf Course for as many as 200 workforce units, and in Dillon and Frisco, potential partnerships among the towns and county for investment in future affordable and/or deed-restricted housing.
“I’m really excited for Summit County and really appreciate the voters for stepping up,” said Gibbs. “We know we don’t want to be like some of those other communities that have acted too late in terms of being prepared for increased prices and so forth. This will put Summit County in a unique position. What we’re doing in Summit County I think is a model.”
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