February 20, 2019
KFCG Approved for April Ballot
As expected, the City Council approved ballot language for the April 2ndmunicipal election asking voters to extend the Keep Fort Collins Great (KFCG) .85 sales tax. In previous discussions this winter, the Council decided to split the sales tax revenue into two parts.
If approved by the voters, .60 percent of the tax will not expire. It would cover all but .01 percent of the current KFCG contributions to police, streets, fire, and parks and recreation. The reason Council will ask the voters to make most of the tax permanent is that it has become a way to fund basic services, so it doesn’t make sense to keep going back to the voters over and over again. This will provide a level of certainty when planning the annual City budgets.
The remaining .25 percent of the tax would sunset (expire) on December 31, 2030. It would fund “other transportation” and sustainability programs and services.
Candidate List Finalized for April Election
Fort Collins voters will have a full slate of candidates to consider for the upcoming municipal election on April 2. A list of the candidates is available here: https://www.fcgov.com/elections/election-2019-april-2
Interestingly, the race for the District 2 seat is the most competitive, with four candidates, including REALTOR® Adam Eggleston hoping to fill the seat which will be vacated by Ray Martinez. All the races will be competitive except for District 4. Kristin Stephens is running unopposed for another 4-year term.
Council Gets Final Look at City Plan
The City Council will likely adopt the 2019 City Plan, Fort Collins’ comprehensive plan update on March 19. This is significant because it will occur prior to the municipal election that will see significant changes to the Council’s make up. On February 12 the Council had its opportunity to comment on the draft and discussed its “big ideas.”
When it comes to housing, unfortunately, the “big ideas” aren’t very revolutionary. City Plan wants to “make room for more diverse housing choices” in a city that is rapidly running out of undeveloped land. Community input during the development of the Plan “indicated a desire for additional housing choices and options” as long as it only happens in new neighborhoods, according to staff. As a result, City Plan does not recommend any new policies to encourage the construction of accessory dwelling units or allow innovative home design that would create more density in existing neighborhoods.
The Council is certainly aware of this contradiction. While some members commented on the need to encourage more affordable forms of housing, their comments were focused on preserving existing stock or building denser developments along key transit corridors. Ross Cunniff initiated a discussion on neighborhood compatibility, reminding staff the focus of City Plan should be allowing more density on undeveloped pockets of land, not in existing neighborhoods. It doesn’t appear that City Plan will do much, if anything, to encourage enough new residential construction to impact housing affordability.
Council Revises Metro District Policy
The City Council adopted a metro district policy in August of 2018 which for the first time, allows residential metro districts. Shortly thereafter, the Council approved three new metro districts, including the 850-acre Montava project near the Budweiser brewery, but requested further changes to the City’s policy. These changes were approved by the City Council on February 5.
The City Council had earlier determined that residential metro district would have to deliver public benefits such as affordable housing targeted for residents making 80 percent or less of the average median income (AMI), critical public infrastructure or helping the City meet other policy objectives such as environmental sustainability. On February 5 the Council added workforce housing as a defined public benefit, defined as residential units for those with an income between 81 and 120 percent of the AMI. In addition, the Council approved other changes to the model service plan designed to strengthen the City’s authority to regulate these districts and adopted language that prohibits a metro district from issuing debt until an intergovernmental agreement is approved to “secure” public benefits.