Affordable housing, town maintenance projects identified as priorities in Fraser 2019 budget
The Fraser Board of Trustees heard from residents who highlighted the need for affordable housing at their second public budget hearing during the town meeting on Wednesday night.
The proposed 2019 budget includes $500,000 for a deed restriction program to provide affordable housing in Fraser. Resident Connor Nelson said he felt funds for affordable housing should be a budget priority.
“I find that it’s the pillar that holds up the rest of the community and I think it should be at the forefront of what we’re talking about,” Nelson said.
The deed restriction program that the board is considering funding is based off a similar program in Vail, where the town purchases a deed restriction for a property that would require the owner or renter to work in town a certain number of hours a week.
While the exact details of the program have yet to be decided, town manager Jeff Durbin said he feels it would be a worthwhile way to provide affordable housing because it’s a one-time expense and the units would remain deed restricted in perpetuity.
“What it does is creates two different real estate markets if you will,” Durbin explained. “By putting this deed restriction on, what you do is eliminate that competition of the varying incomes.”
Vail invested $1 million initially in its InDEED program and ended up with 64 deed restricted units.
The board also wanted to continue prioritizing the Cozens Ranch Open Space Fund, which funds the projects identified in the Fraser River Corridor Master Plan, with $250,000 for implementation and $30,000 for design work.
Funding for the Lions Pond area, where the first project for the master plan was completed, was also included in the budget for the Fraser Public Arts Committee. The draft budget includes $75,000 for PAC projects and $15,000 to initiate fundraising for the Fraser Center for Creative Arts.
Another budget priority for 2019 are town maintenance projects, including $325,000 for street improvements and $750,000 for two waterline projects, as well as $75,000 for the design of a new public works facility.
While Fraser has several projects identified for next year, the board also wanted to increase its reserves, which can be used for strategic opportunities or emergencies.
The general fund reserve will increase by $1.1 million in 2019 and the wastewater reserve fund will increase by $1 million.
“The town is trying to build up more reserves with the water and wastewater funds and overall, the town wants to do a couple important projects and with those reserves, I think if something does come up we’ll be able to get those completed,” said Fraser utilities administrator Rytis Raila.
The board meets again on Dec. 5 at 6 p.m. for the final public hearing on the budget and can adjust the budget as needed before it’s adopted.
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