Department of Local Affairs SMART Act hearing
COMMITTEE ON JOINT LOCAL GOVERNMENT
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12:02 PM -- Department of Local Affairs SMART Act hearing
Irv Halter, Executive Director, Colorado Department of Local Affairs (DOLA), identified the topics that will be addressed in the DOLA SMART Act hearing and introduced DOLA staff attending the hearing. He identified the department's mission and major programs and summarized the contents of the department Performance Plan for FY 2016-17 (Attachment A). He highlighted strategic policy initiatives for the department in 2016 (Attachment A). For example, the Board of Assessment Appeals sought to expand the use of facilitator services and mediation for appeal resolution in order to improve taxpayer satisfaction while reducing the average time for appeals to be resolved. He also summarized DOLA's 2016 Performance Evaluation (Attachment B) and discussed efforts to increase affordable housing in Colorado.
170110 AttachA.pdf170110 AttachB.pdf
Mr. Stan Sterlecki, representing himself, explained that he is a veteran and resident of the Edge, an affordable housing community in Loveland, Colorado. He discussed his experience with homelessness and the challenge of finding affordable housing in Colorado. He also responded to questions from the committee about the assistance he receives to pay for his housing expenses.
Allison George, Director, Division of Housing, responded to questions from the committee about funding for affordable housing that is available to local governments.
Mr. Halter discussed the allocation of severance tax revenue by DOLA to local governments impacted by mineral development. He estimated that grants to impacted communities will be 60 percent less than FY 2015-16. He also discussed the Main Street Grant Program that was founded by the National Main Street Center (NMSC); a national organization committed to historic preservation-based community revitalization. The Colorado program uses the NMSC model to assist communities as they preserve and rejuvenate their downtown and commercial districts within the context of historic preservation.
Trish Thibido, Delta County Economic Development, discussed the impact of mine closures on Delta County's economy and explained how the county cooperates with DOLA to address these impacts and increase employment in the county. She also discussed the benefits of broadband improvement to economic development and discussed the use of Community Development Block Grant moneys to address blight in the county and improve the business climate. She also responded to questions from the committee about the county's application to DOLA for broadband improvements.
Mr. Halter discussed DOLAs support for broadband improvements in rural communities and responded to questions from the committee about operators of broadband services in communities that use DOLA moneys to expand broadband services. He also discussed the Community Development Block Grant Program the DOLA's 2017 regulatory agenda (Attachment C).
Mr. Halter discussed the Community Service Block Grant (CSBG) Program that is a federally funded program that provides grants to alleviate the causes and conditions of poverty in communities. Colorado has 31 eligible local entities working under nine CSBG federal objectives including employment, education, income management, housing, emergency services, nutrition, linkages with other programs, self sufficiency, and health. He also responded to questions from the committee about the CSBG program and what federal reductions in that program could mean for Colorado. He also discussed the impact of gentrification on affordable housing in Colorado and DOLA programs to address this issue.
Ms. George responded to questions from the committee about efforts to provide affordable housing for school teachers and to promote the development of tiny homes.
Mr. Halter responded to questions from the committee about the DOLA's FY 2017-18 budget decision items (Attachment D). For example, the Department requests an increase of $2,000,000 General Fund for affordable housing grants and loans. The Department provides gap financing to facilitate the development of affordable units throughout the State. By increasing state support from the current $8.2 million General Fund, the Department anticipates that it will support development of an additional 250 units. The target population would be low-income Coloradans spending 50 percent or more of their income on housing. The Department’s FY 2016-17 appropriation represents approximately 1.1 percent of statewide operating appropriations and 0.3 percent of statewide General Fund appropriations.
The committee adjourned.