Survey shows moderate support for tax increase to fund affordable housing
As locals struggle to find a place to live amidst seemingly constant high-end development, the Fraser River Valley Housing Partnership moves one step closer to finding a funding source to build affordable housing. In June, the Partnership conducted a survey to measure how residents feel about methods to obtain funding, as well as opinions on the Partnership overall. On July 14, the Partnership released the results of their survey.
Based on the survey, the Partnership “will prioritize and focus its resources on creating housing units on the ground for year-round residents.” Formed in April, the Partnership includes the Grand County Board of Commissioners and the towns of Granby, Fraser and Winter Park.
Their community-wide survey was conducted via interview and online through their website, FRVHP.com. Those surveyed had to be registered voters in Winter Park, Fraser, Tabernash, Granby or unincorporated Grand County. The interviews were conducted from June 9-20, with 473 voters participating.
The primary objective of the survey was to measure and understand voter opinions for a 2-mill property tax ballot measure to create a dedicated, annual $1.2 million funding source for the Partnership. The survey educated and informed voters of the Partnership’s goals, plans and initiatives to help year-round residents with rental and homeownership opportunities.
The survey summary stated, “there is a shortage of long-term rental and homeownership opportunities in the Fraser River Valley for year-round residents. This shortage is eroding our quality of life and limits our ability to have healthy businesses, great teachers, police officers, firefighters and public safety professionals. With a dedicated funding source, more housing opportunities for local residents can be created, helping them remain in the community.”
The survey’s major findings are:
- 87% of Fraser River Valley voters say the shortage of available long-term rental and homeownership opportunities for year-round residents is a big problem.
- 75% of respondents support the partnership establishing a dedicated funding source to achieve their housing goals and objectives for year-round residents.
- 54% of likely 2022 voters would vote yes and approve a 2-mill property tax increase ballot measure to create a $1.2 million dedicated funding source. After being informed how the partnership would operate and use their $1.2 million budget, likely voter support for the 2-mill ballot measure increased from 54% to 64% support.
- Major themes contributing to the level of support include: an understanding of the broad community need for housing; the need to keep essential workers such as police officers, firefighters, educators and hospitality workers in the valley; and personal connections and stories to the housing crisis.
“We’re very encouraged to see the community’s support for establishing a dedicated fund for housing solutions for year-round residents,” said Deb Brynoff, newly appointed Partnership board member and retired CEO of the Grand County Board of Realtors. “Residents see and experience this crisis every day, so now we have to get to work spreading the word on how the partnership plans to tackle this issue.”
The Partnership plans to create affordable housing through public-private partnerships and issuing construction bonds, rather than supplementing down-payment and financial assistance programs already available to residents in the area.
The Partnership’s leadership said it needs to generate a minimum of $1 million annually to make a meaningful impact on housing for year-round residents. One funding source that would provide them with a reliable, annual $1.2 million dedicated funding source is a 2-mill property tax on residential and commercial property. This funding source can be “leveraged” to issue bonds to pay for the construction of housing units.
A 2-mill property tax increase would cost a homeowner approximately $14 a year for each $100,000 of a home’s assessed value. So a home valued at $500,000 would cost a property owner about $70 annually. The cost of a 2-mill property tax increase for a commercial property owner would be about $58 annually for every $100,000 of commercial property’s assessed value.
A little of half of those surveyed approved this tax increase. The Partnership also presented a possible 1.5-mill property tax increase to survey-takers. This increase would cost a homeowner approximately $10 a year for each $100,000 of a home’s assessed value. So a home valued at $500,000 would cost a property owner about $50 annually. The cost of a 1.5-mill property tax increase for a commercial property owner would be about $44 annually for every $100,000 of commercial property’s assessed value.
Other funding options considered the Partnership has considered include:
- A tax on short-term rental properties. For legal reasons, it was determined the partnership cannot impose a tax on short-term properties.
- A sales and use tax. Although this option would generate the $1.2 million needed, voters within each housing partnership town would need to approve it, which could be difficult to achieve.
- A $2 per-square-foot impact fee on new construction and developments. According to the partnership, the drawbacks to this option are the limited amount of money that would be raised and new construction not being a stable, ongoing, year-to-year process.
Those who are interested can learn more about the survey and the Partnership’s mission by visiting FRVHP.com. The complete survey results, including open-ended responses, are available on the partnership’s website.
The next step in the Partnership’s process was a public meeting held on Thursday, July 21, where they shared the working draft of their housing needs assessment.
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