Finds county funding reduction curious
By Mark Reaman
The Crested Butte Town Council has agreed to proposed changes with the intergovernmental agreement (IGA) that governs the Gunnison Valley Regional Housing Authority. Just as with the Mt. Crested Butte council, there were some questions about why the county was ultimately getting a big break from current funding levels.
Under the revised IGA, in five years each valley government entity—Crested Butte, Mt. Crested Butte, the city of Gunnison and Gunnison County—will provide equal funding for the GVRHA. Each will be obligated to contribute $58,750 annually.
According to county manager Matthew Birnie, the county currently contributes “$93,500 in direct general fund support, along with $38,000 in various fees for service, for an annual total of $131,500, all of which funds their operations in some way.”
Crested Butte pays about $53,000 for general operating costs. The bigger hits will come to Mt. Crested Butte and the city of Gunnison. Mt. Crested Butte donated $38,500 in 2017, while Gunnison contributed $48,000.
Members of the Mt. Crested Butte council agreed to raise the amount they contribute but voiced a desire for the county to maintain current contribution levels given the increasing need for workforce housing.
The city of Gunnison has been approached about the proposed IGA changes but has not yet made a commitment. Gunnison city manager Russ Forrest said the changes to the IGA and the proposed funding alternative will be discussed by the council in August and a decision made at that time.
During a July 10 discussion between the Crested Butte Town Council and GVRHA executive director Jennifer Kermode, mayor Glenn Michel asked her for the reasoning for the reduction in the county contribution. Kermode said the decision was made before she was hired and advocated by interim GVRHA director and former county commissioner Paula Swenson.
“It just seems odd that the county commissioners have declared this is one of the top priorities for the county and they are reducing the money they contribute to the issue through the housing authority,” said Michel. “I think it came out near the top of their strategic planning retreat.”
Kermode said that while she wasn’t at the meeting she did say the county would still be contributing significant funding to the housing authority. She didn’t know the reasoning behind the new funding structure.
“They just want to pay less,” surmised councilman Jim Schmidt.
“It just seems odd in some ways,” said Michel.
Crested Butte community development director Michael Yerman said the town had used the housing authority quite a bit in the last few years and it was a good investment. “We have utilized the housing authority for several projects recently and it has been instrumental in getting some the projects off the ground,” he said. “The housing authority has put a lot of focus on the town of Crested Butte and the city of Gunnison the last couple of years.”
The council agreed with the logic and voted to approve the requested changes in the IGA.