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On Monday, Chaffee Housing Authority (CHA) Director and member of the Chaffee Multijurisdictional Housing Authority Becky Gray, announced the draft of a proposed county ballot question that, if approved in the Nov. 8 general election, would set a mill levy to fund workforce housing in the county. An ad valorem property tax of 3.5 mills would be placed on the ballot for consideration by voters.

Logo courtesy Chaffee Housing Authority

“They decided on a 3.5 mill levy property increase which makes the most sense,” said Gray. It’s a good strategy,” she added. Many residents do not realize that a quarter of all residences in Chaffee County are second homes.

The proposed language of the ballot question will be released this week. The potential ballot question for the mill levy is to be reviewed by each participating municipality (and the county) to pass resolutions in support of placing the question on the ballot. “They wouldn’t be voting for the ballot question, just to place it on the general election ballot to allow county residents to decide.”

The proposal will be reviewed in the Salida City council work session on Monday evening July 18, on Tuesday morning with the Chaffee County BoCC, and Tuesday night with the Poncha Springs Trustees, and next week before the Buena Vista Trustees.

A second-floor manufactured housing module stands ready to be incorporated into the Chaffee Housing Trust affordable housing project Wednesday at the Two Rivers development. In the background, a crane prepares to lift a similar module into place (photo by Joe Stone).

According to the proposal documents, the mill levy is expected to raise a projected $2 million in tax revenue. That amount is $400,000 less than the CHA goal of $2.4 million in total revenue per year to accomplish measurable results in housing development, access, and stabilization.

Translated into community investment, the 3.5 mill property tax increase will cost less than $10/month for residential property owners and less than $34/month for commercial property owners. Yearly, this is less than $120/year for residential property owners and less than $420/year for commercial property owners (based on the median assessed values).

The last time Chaffee County voters (in unincorporated Chaffee and in the Salida School District area)  were asked to approve a property mill levy, it was to fund Colorado Mountain College. That mill levy currently stands at 4.01 mills. (Buena Vista voters did not chose to join the CMC district at that time.)

CHA will be seeking approval from Chaffee County, the Town Of Buena Vista, the Town of Poncha Springs, the City of Salida and the registered voters of these areas to fund the authority’s goal of adding more workforce housing.