Carbondale reserves ballot spot for possible housing question |

Carbondale reserves ballot spot for possible housing question

Jeremy Heiman
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

CARBONDALE, Colorado ” Carbondale may put a question to its voters in the coming November election, but at this point no one knows exactly what it will say.

It could have to do with funding to support Carbondale’s affordable housing efforts. But the ballot reservation also preserves the option to pose an entirely different question, perhaps related to capital improvements.

The Carbondale Board of Trustees decided Tuesday to keep the option of asking the electorate for a tax increase for the town’s affordable housing program. But the trustees did not decide what amount to ask for, or even whether the means of funding would be a sales tax, mill levy or some other unspecified method.

The decision needed to be made this week due to a July 25 Garfield County deadline for reserving a place on the ballot. The county doesn’t require the actual wording of the question to be submitted until Sept. 5, however.

One reason for caution on asking for a tax increase in November is that some trustees are concerned that another tax proposal would dilute support for RFTA’s Bus Rapid Transit tax, which will be on the ballot valley-wide.

“The paramount question is the RFTA question, and I really would hate to see that clouded by another tax question,” Mayor Michael Hassig said.

And a sales tax increase in Carbondale could make present and future Carbondale retailers less competitive with those in Glenwood Springs. Hassig said developers of the proposed Crystal River Marketplace have told him that the sales tax at the Marketplace would have to be 1 cent lower than the sales tax at Glenwood Meadows to make the Marketplace competitive.

Trustee Ed Cortez suggested that a mill levy increase might be a more appropriate way of raising money for housing. But Trustee Frosty Merriott reminded the members of the board that the Blue Ribbon Committee, an offshoot of the town’s Economic Roadmap Group, offered the opinion that a sales tax was the proper way to support an affordable housing plan.

Merriott questioned whether the RFTA issue should be placed ahead of housing.

“I don’t know if I agree that RFTA is paramount, or if community housing is paramount,” Merriott said. But he agreed that the town needs to contribute to affordable housing, rather than trying to exact the entire cost of the program from development.

“We shouldn’t be putting this all on the back of the developers,” he said.

The board approved a resolution to request a spot on the ballot by a 5-2 vote.

Trustees Cortez and John Foulkrod voted against the measure. Foulkrod expressed some pessimism about the future of Carbondale’s affordable housing program given the current market conditions.

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