Longmont City Council to Consider Countywide Affordable-housing Tax Proposal
If you go
What: Longmont City Council study session
When: 7 p.m. Tuesday
Where: Civic Center Council chambers, 350 Kimbark St., Longmont
Longmont City Council members will discuss Tuesday whether they would support asking Boulder County voters’ approval of a countywide ballot measure to increase taxes to help fund affordable-housing programs.
Among the questions the city staff has suggested the council address during Tuesday night’s study session:
• If the council endorses the idea of placing such a question on a Boulder County election ballot, whether the Longmont Council prefer the proposed tax increase to be in the form of a sales tax or a property tax.
• How much money the council would prefer to be raised annually from a countywide affordable-housing tax — an amount that could determine the size of a ballot tax proposal.
• Whether an affordable-housing question should be put on this coming November’s ballot, or wait until the November 2020 general election.
Boulder County’s other city councils and town boards are expected to weigh in on the idea of an affordable-housing ballot question later in April, Longmont’s staff said in a memo for Tuesday’s meeting.
Michelle Krezek, the Board of County Commissioners’ staff deputy, said the commissioners “are not really driving this bus.”
Krezek said in an interview that if there does not appear to be enough support from the cities and towns for asking voters’ approval of an affordable-housing tax, the county commissioners are unlikely to do so.
The Boulder County Regional Housing Partnership, an organization formed in 2016, and the partnership’s municipal and county government members, have been considering creation of a Housing Trust Fund in the event voters were to be asked and approved a tax proposal, Longmont staff said.
A countywide 0.185 percent sales tax would generate an estimated $10 million a year. A 0.365 percent sales tax would raise a projected $20 million annually.
A 1.25-mill countywide property tax would generate an estimated $10 million a year, while a 2.5-mill property tax would raise an estimate $20 million annually.
Seventy-five percent of the tax revenues going annually into a Housing Trust Fund could be distributed to local governments under a population-based formula, with each locality determining how to spend its share of the money.
A city or town could choose its own housing investment opportunity, contract with a housing authority or other local non-profit to provide affordable housing, or return its share to the trust fund to be redistributed regionally.
Longmont’s estimated share of that 75 percent portion of the overall trust fund distributions could amount to $2 million to $4 million a year, depending the size of a voter-approved tax increase, staff said.
The remaining 25 percent of the annual tax collections could be set aside for an opportunity fund “to capitalize time-sensitive needs such as a land acquisition opportunity and support projects that require a greater amount of funds than are available to the local jurisdiction,” staff said.
Part of that 25 percent could also be spent “to support programming serving housing needs throughout the region,” staff wrote.
“This could include enhancing access to down payment assistance for middle-income homebuyers, financial resources for owner-occupied housing rehabilitation programs, and support of housing counseling programs.”
A county-commissioned telephone poll that Drake Research and Strategy conducted in December questioned more than 600 registered voters about several affordable-housing tax options.
In a summary of the poll results, the Regional Housing Partnership has reported that between 55 percent and 56 percent of the likely Boulder County voters surveyed said they would support both levels of a proposed sales-tax hike — either a 0.185 percent sales tax or a 0.365 percent sales tax — or a 1.25 mill property tax increase.
Longmont staff noted that as the result of an affordable housing summit held in September 2017, every local Boulder County government adopted an overall goal of having 12 percent of the county’s total housing stock be “permanently affordable” by 2035.
While federal funds and local funding such as the Affordable Housing Fund in Longmont’s city budget are being used to leverage low-income tax credits and other private and public housing program funding, more local funding is needed to help achieve that goal, staff said.
Current local affordable-housing funding sources produce about $15 million total annually, countywide, but an estimated $25 million a year is needed countywide to allow the partnership to reach the 12 percent goal, staff said.
Staff is to provide the Longmont Council’s Tuesday night positions to the Regional Housing Partnership, which is planning a countywide Affordable Housing Summit on May 10 to review Boulder County’s municipal and county governments’ positions on moving forward with a possible ballot measure in 2019 or 2020.
Contact Staff Writer John Fryar at 303-684-5211 or email@example.com or twitter.com/jfryartc