In all the time we’ve talked about affordable and workforce housing in the Durango area, we have not moved the needle forward in creating solutions. Conversations remain the same. The lack of surplus. The working families who can’t make enough to live here. The missed opportunities because we can’t attract – or hold onto – vibrant employees.
Now, we have a real shot at making housing happen with the excess lodgers tax revenue. Let’s get started on fixing the problems. The first step is to vote “yes” on Ballot Issue No. 2A.
Ballot Issue No. 2A asks Durango residents if the city may keep excess revenues from the lodgers tax. A recap – revenues exceeded estimates in 2021 and will again this year. The city collected about $684,000 more than its projected $900,000 last year, after voters approved the 3.25% lodgers tax increase in April 2021. This year, the city predicts it will have about $1.1 million in excess funds for both last year and this year.
This is a good problem to have. We should make use of it.
If the measure fails, Durango residents can expect a refund of about $218 per utility account. If the measure passes, the city plans to spend the funds in these ways: 66% for affordable and workforce housing programs; 20% for transportation, parking and transit services, as well as equipment and facilities; 14% for arts and cultural events, programs and facilities.
After affordable housing, transportation and parking would get the serious attention funding brings. What will we do without all those letters to the editor about parking? It will be a whole new world but we’re up for the challenge.
And art and cultural events are undercurrents of life-force in Durango. We can’t go wrong with this choice either.
We do appreciate that City Council had severe time constraints. It’s unusual to have excess tax revenues. The city’s surveys allowed us to weigh in and really think about the challenges that are of upmost importance with some unexpected funds to partially address them.
Durango has a spirit for rallying and taking care of its people. More realistic housing would do just that.
Let’s make some progress on affordable and workforce housing. We want real people from all walks of life to live here.