Glenwood Springs housing committee recommends November tax questions
An ad hoc committee created by the Glenwood Springs City Council recommended Thursday that council members consider tax questions for the November ballot, which could help staunch the area’s housing crisis.
During the council’s regular session, ad hoc committee member and Community Builders Executive Director Clark Anderson presented the committee’s findings on Glenwood Springs’ housing needs and recommendations for future solutions.
“We believe — as a group — we need to take action,” Anderson said. “Every year we wait, the worse it will get and the harder it will get to tackle this.”
Since January, and during the course of seven meetings, the committee met to discuss what affordable housing is, where it is needed and how the city could address the challenges of housing through the creation of a housing program.
Anderson said they determined affordable housing to be housing with rent or mortgage payments of about 30% of a resident’s income, based on the area median income.
About 26% of homeowners and 47% of renters in Glenwood Springs spend more than 30% of their income on housing, aka “cost-burdened,” he said. Cost-burdened families can pull millions from the local economy, Anderson said.
Some of the committee’s solutions to the area’s housing crisis included public-private partnerships, programming that assists home buyers with their down payments and property acquisition for dedicated affordable housing projects.
To advance these solutions, Anderson said the committee looked at the viability of increasing lodging taxes, sales taxes and creating an attractions tax, which could tax the sales of tickets for events and attractions.
Increasing sales tax, while somewhat viable, was the committee’s least-favored option of the three, he added.
Ignoring council Member Tony Hershey’s request to keep comments among council members, Mayor Jonathan Godes opened the agenda item to public comment.
Several residents and members of the ad hoc committee also spoke in support of moving forward with tax questions on November’s ballot to pay for a city housing program.
Local business owner Matt Spidell said that without affordable housing, businesses could start crumbling because of a lack of employees.
“I’m deeply concerned,” Spidell said. “I will personally go door to door and help sell this (potential tax), because I care that much.”
Two of Spidell’s employees, Andrew Tucker and Jacob Tyler also spoke to the need for an affordable housing reprieve.
Tucker, who manages Spidell’s shop, said he moved out of Glenwood Springs years ago because of housing costs.
“I think it’s a really consistent thing for landlords to keep jacking up prices,” he said. “I’m working my butt off to try to keep guys coming in, just so we can stay open.”
Despite competitive wages and a housing stipend, Tucker said inflated housing costs make recruitment and retention challenging.
West Glenwood resident and Glenwood Springs Citizens for Sensible Development member Lacy King said she supported an initiative to increase the area’s affordable housing offerings.
“This is an important issue, and it’s something that council needs to act on,” King said. “It’s past time the issue be brought to the table, allowing voters to decide if tourists should be responsible for giving back to the community that takes care of them.”
During council comments on the item, Hershey said he didn’t think the city should ask the voters about another tax, following the failures on tax questions in 2021 and the voters’ refusal of the 480 Donegan annexation.
“It’s easy to be against something,” he said. “But sometimes, you have to be a realist.”
Mayor Pro Tem Charlie Willman made a motion, which was seconded by council member Shelley Kaup, to support the recommendations of the ad hoc committee.
Additionally, the motion authorized allocating $50,000 to the city manager for a committee survey, which could poll the community about a future tax question and need for a housing program.
An amendment to the motion, suggested by Godes, made supporting the committee’s recommendations and future work a top priority for the city.
Council members approved the motion 6-1, with Hershey voting against.
Reporter Ike Fredregill can be reached at 970-384-9154 or by email at email@example.com.
Support Local Journalism
Support Local Journalism
Readers around Glenwood Springs and Garfield County make the Post Independent’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.
Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.
Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.