AuroraHot SheetHousing

Aurora may fund affordable housing with oil and gas taxes

Author: Kara Mason - September 14, 2018 - Updated: September 14, 2018

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(Photo by arinahabich, istockphoto)

Aurora may help pay for affordable housing projects through $1 million in oil and gas property taxes — it’s an item potentially being built into the 2019 budget.

City council members were presented with the city manager’s budget this week. Alongside a new fire station and more than 30 public safety positions, the budget called for $1 million to be set aside for affordable housing purposes in 2019 and 2020.

It’s unclear what those affordable housing projects would look like. Deputy City Manager Jason Batchelor, who has served as the interim city manager since November, told council members this week that a policy would have to be created by the body to distribute those funds, much like how the city has used marijuana money for various homeless services.

The Citizens Advisory Budget Committee suggested the council use that money to acquire land for community land trusts, through which an entity such as a nonprofit organization owns the land and is able to develop housing, which is then sold to buyers of a certain income level. The system typically results in a cheaper stock of housing because the buyer owns the home but not the land.

City staff say oil and gas property taxes are currently pulling in about $100,000 each year. But as oil and gas drilling picks up, estimates show the city could see $1 million from those property taxes.

Some members of Aurora City Council seem to be sold on the idea, while others see different areas of the city that need additional funds.

The Aurora Sentinel reported councilwoman Nicole Johnston, who first became involved in local government through advocating for stricter oil and gas regulations, said she’s for the budget item, citing the creativity of city staff in attempting to address major issues like affordable housing.

Meanwhile, in the southern region of the city, Councilwoman Francoise Bergan reportedly raised concerns about the ongoing deficit in road maintenance.

Earlier this month the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition released a poll that found 53 percent of more than 400 people polled in Aurora believe the council isn’t doing enough to address affordable housing and homelessness.

Fifty-five percent said they’d be more likely to vote for a council member who supported more affordable housing in Aurora.

Council members will fine-tune the budget later this month at a weekend workshop.

Kara Mason

Kara Mason

Kara Mason covers southern Colorado, Aurora and statewide issues for ColoradoPolitics.com. She also writes for the Aurora Sentinel.