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Housing board working to develop plan for tax funds

Prepares to ask voters to approve property tax increase this fall 

By Kristy Acuff

As the Gunnison Valley Regional Housing Authority (GVRHA) prepares to ask voters this fall to approve a ballot measure increasing county property taxes to fund affordable housing projects, executive director Jennifer Kermode caught up with the Crested Butte News to outline the group’s proposed plans.

If approved, the property tax increase is estimated to generate $880,000 annually for 10 years. When asked what is on the docket in terms of future housing projects, Kermode said it is too early to start talking about specific projects. Instead, the GVRHA is focusing on planning with local jurisdictions in the valley and looking at developing partnerships with multiple funding sources.

“It is difficult to get very specific about how many dollars would be spent in each of the years ahead, as we don’t have partnerships already established with private developers, state and federal assistance agencies, industry non-profits or housing foundations [different from the GVHF] at this point,” wrote Kermode via email. “Typically, those partnerships come along as these types of partners learn about the commitment that a community has made to solving its housing challenges. Voting in a dedicated funding stream is just such a commitment.”

Over the next several weeks, the GVRHA will be working with local jurisdictions to plan for housing development in the valley, according to Kermode. “This plan should provide guidance over the next several years for how housing will happen in the valley—who it should be for, what type of housing should be built where and how it will physically get built,” wrote Kermode.

When asked whether the funds would be used primarily to acquire land, build infrastructure such as water and sewer, or construct new developments, Kermode said GVRHA plans to use a variety of tools to address the affordable housing crisis in the valley.

“The acquisition of land for future development is certainly one of the tools that the GVRHA and its member jurisdictions should use when the right opportunities present themselves,” wrote Kermode. “There have been a few suitable parcels recognized in our search, but they are listed at prices that make them unsuited to an affordable housing development. And, there are some that have no easy connection to infrastructure, and without a funding stream to help pay for infrastructure, it’s currently not practical to spend the GVRHA’s limited financial resources on them… so both land and infrastructure are important, even critical, tools for us to get housing on the ground.”

At this point, GVRHA has compiled a “pipeline” of potential project sites and ideas based on available land that is publicly owned by either the city of Gunnison, Gunnison County or the towns of Crested Butte and Mt. Crested Butte.

The pipeline includes lots 77-80 in Crested Butte that could site 14 duplexes, as well as two lots in Larkspur owned by the county (0.4 acres) and 2.13 acres in the Buckhorn/Stallion Park area also owned by the county.

In Mt. Crested Butte, 17 acres of the North Village and 5.34 acres in the proposed Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory’s expanded campus are listed as potential sites.

The remaining sites listed in the pipeline include 35 acres of land owned by the city of Gunnison in various locations around the city.

If passed by the voters this fall, the property tax increase of 1.5 mils will result in an increase of $10.80 per $100,000 of residential value and $43.50 per $100,000 for commercial properties.

“Creating homes for our locals matters in so many ways; I trust that our valley communities want to see it occur,” wrote Kermode. “We don’t have a world of opportunities to accomplish this goal, so each one that is presented to us has to be taken advantage of with careful planning and foresight. Finally, we have to make a commitment to help ourselves; it takes hard work, financial capital and community vision.”

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